Here’s Why People Soak Their Feet in Listerine

January 3, 2022 • • foot carefoot conditionsfungal infection
Here's Why People Soak Their Feet in Listerine

Could bathing your feet in Listerine cure athlete’s foot and dry, cracked heels? Learn the facts about the latest at-home treatment for foot problems.

Athlete’s foot and dry, cracked feet are among the most common foot problems. Both conditions cause pain and irritation, making exercising and even walking excruciating at times. Rather than a visit to a podiatrist, many people have seen online testimonials about Listerine as an at-home treatment for foot ailments or as a preventative measure against fungal infections. 

A Listerine soak is quite simple. You find a tub big enough to hold your feet, add Listerine, and dilute it with two parts warm water. You can also splash in some white vinegar or lemon juice. But does it really work as a remedy for foot fungus and rough heels?

How Listerine Works

Primarily used to treat cavities and gingivitis, Listerine contains several antifungal and exfoliating ingredients. One ingredient, methyl salicylate, is chemically similar to salicylic acid, a solution used to treat pimples, blackheads, and dry skin patches by sloughing off the outer layer of dermis. Consequently, Listerine has been touted as a possible treatment for dry, cracked skin on the heels if other methods like pumice stone and moisturizers aren’t effective. Methyl salicylate is also similar to aspirin, which could make it suitable as a topical pain relief solution for aching feet.

Methyl salicylate is also said to be an antiseptic, which is probably why Listerine has been purported as a cure for fungal infections of the foot. It also contains other ingredients with anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties like eucalyptol, menthol, and thymol.

However, no clinical research has definitely proven Listerine works as a treatment for dry heel skin or foot fungus. One study reported that Listerine reduced bacteria in the mouths of people with compromised immune systems, but that was done only on dental patients, not podiatry patients. 

Further, for a Listerine soak to work, it must be done daily and up to 60 minutes a day. You can also apply the solution on your feet twice a day with a cotton ball. Although you may see slight improvement at the start, a Listerine soak might take a few months before you’re completely healed, which is about the same time it takes for a prescription anti-fungal treatment to work.

Lastly, a Listerine soak isn’t suitable for everyone. It won’t cure nail fungus because it doesn’t penetrate under the nail to fight the infection. If you have sensitive skin, an in-grown toenail, an allergy to any of the mouthwash’s ingredients, or have open sores on your foot, the solution could even irritate your skin.

If you want to try a Listerine soak, dab a small amount on your foot to see if you have an adverse reaction. Young children should not have their feet soaked in Listerine because aspirin and other salicylates have been linked to a serious children illness, Reye Syndrome.

What to Do Instead of a Listerine Soak

A visit to a podiatrist is your best choice if your feet are ailing you. But if you’re looking for an at-home treatment for athlete’s foot or dry skin, try these methods instead:

Keep Feet Dry. If you’re prone to athlete’s foot, keep your feet dry. Clean your feet after you exercise and change your socks often. If your feet sweat profusely, sprinkle or spray a powder on your feet to wick away moisture.

Smooth Your Skin by Hand. To slough away dry, cracked heel skin, rub gently with a pumice stone. Then apply a strong moisturizing lotion, like a urea cream.

Trim Your Toenails. Trimming your toenails helps prevent infections festering under the nail. If you have an in-grown toenail, have your podiatrist remove the nail to ward off any infections.

A warm footbath with Listerine isn’t harmful and it can even be relaxing. But it isn’t a cure for painful dry skin or fungal infections. If you’ve tried at-home remedies and your feet are still irritated and painful, a podiatrist can prescribe a more effective treatment.

See a Podiatrist

Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group treats a variety of foot ailments, including athlete’s foot. If your feet are irritated from an infection or you’re suffering from dry, cracked heels, we can provide treatment options. Contact us today for a consultation.

Request an Appointment

Fill out the form below to reach Alamitos – Seal Beach Podiatry Group, or call Los Alamitos: (562) 203-6151 or Seal Beach: (562) 242-1559 for immediate assistance.

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