Listerine foot soak: Does it work?
Listerine will not treat any underlying disease, but it may leave the feet feeling smooth and rejuvenated. In this article, we explore what the benefits may be of using this brand of mouthwash to soak feet.
Listerine foot soak: What proponents promise
Proponents suggest that Listerine may help to eliminate foot fungus and get rid of dry skin.
Dry, cracked skin on the feet can be impossible to eliminate. Moisturizers do little to help, and walking on dry skin tends to make it worse.
Anecdotally, the primary benefit of a Listerine foot soak is that it gets rid of dry, cracked skin, once and for all.
Some sites also promise that Listerine will:
- eliminate foot fungus
- help with diabetes-related foot issues
- prevent calluses
Does a Listerine foot soak work?
The skin naturally sheds its outer layer over time. However, dry skin tends to get stuck, sloughing off more slowly. When this occurs, areas of the feet can become dry and cracked.
As skin is often driest in areas where there is a lot of friction from shoes and walking, dry skin is sometimes layered on top of calluses. This can create a particularly unsightly appearance. In extreme cases, it can even make wearing shoes uncomfortable, since the shoes rub the dry skin and calluses.
Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant found in many acne and anti-aging remedies. It helps the skin slough off the outer layer more quickly, thereby reducing the accumulation of dry skin and addressing concerns, such as pimples and blackheads.
Methyl salicylate, contained in the branded mouthwash Listerine is chemically similar. As such, it has similar exfoliating properties.
Though there has been no scientific research done on Listerine as an exfoliant, anecdotal evidence from blogs and other online sources suggests that users have good results. People report few negative side effects.
For people struggling with chronic dry, peeling, hardened foot skin, Listerine may be a good option. It could offer a better and more effective alternative to:
- pumice stone
- other exfoliants
Listerine is designed to use in the mouth, which normally has much more sensitive skin than the feet. So, while there is no research directly assessing whether it is safe to use as a foot scrub, there is no reason to think it is dangerous.
People who can safely use Listerine in their mouths without an allergic or other reaction should also be able to use it on their feet.
Other benefits of Listerine
There are other potential benefits of using Listerine as a foot soak or scrub that are explored here.
Listerine is a natural disinfectant. It is not designed to treat infections, but it might help prevent them.
People may want to soak their feet in Listerine as a preventative measure against infections. This may be helpful for those who are concerned about developing, but do not currently have:
- athlete's foot
- fungal toenail infections
- other infections of the feet
The essential oils in Listerine are natural antifungals, so may treat mild to moderate cases of toenail fungus and athlete's foot. There is no harm in trying Listerine, but if symptoms do not go away, it is safer to consult a doctor.
There is no reason to believe Listerine can treat other skin infections, such as cellulitis or infected wounds, however. It may even burn open sores, slowing the time for healing.
Methyl salicylate is almost chemically identical to aspirin and is used in several topical pain relief remedies.
This, coupled with the scent of essential oils in Listerine, makes it a relaxing alternative to some other foot scrubs.
Who should avoid Listerine foot soaks?
A Listerine foot soak should be avoided if there are open sores on the feet or there is an allergy to aspirin.
The burning sensation of a Listerine mouth rinse can affect any area of the body.
People with sensitive skin or open wounds should avoid Listerine foot soaks, as they may irritate their skin, causing a burning sensation.
People should avoid soaking feet in Listerine if they have:
- A history of allergic reactions to any of Listerine's active ingredients, which include eucalyptus, menthol, thymol, and methyl salicylate.
- Open sores on the feet, including blisters, cuts, or dry skin that has cracked open.
- Very sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions to foot soaks.
- An allergy to aspirin, since methyl salicylate and aspirin are almost identical, chemically.
- Very young children. The use of aspirin and other salicylates is linked to the potentially life-threatening illness in children known as Reye Syndrome.
- An allergy to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).
A Listerine foot soak will not treat an active infection or rash. Unless a doctor directs otherwise, do not use a Listerine foot soak if the skin is:
- shows signs of infection
A foot soak is not a medicine. Painful rashes or wounds demand medical attention, not a spa treatment.
Listerine foot soak recipes
It is fine to soak feet in a solution of Listerine and water. However, a few additional ingredients offer further benefits.
Additional ingredients such as Epsom salt may help to soothe the skin and muscles.
People interested in experimenting could try one or more of the following recipes:
- Combine equal parts Listerine and warm water, with a cup of Epsom salt. Epsom salt soothes the skin and muscles and may help with the treatment of minor skin irritation due to sunburn or other minor injuries.
- Mix a ½ cup of Listerine, a ½ cup of vinegar, 1 gallon of warm water, and 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Both honey and vinegar increase the antiseptic benefits of Listerine and can help soothe sensitive skin.
- Mix 1 cup of Listerine, 1 gallon of warm water, and a few drops of lemon juice. Lemon juice is a natural antiseptic that can increase the exfoliating benefits of Listerine, offering an intense peel.
- Mix 1 cup of Listerine and 1 cup of chamomile tea with 1 gallon of warm water. The chamomile helps with calluses and dry skin.
For feet to smell good and feel relaxed, try adding some lavender oil to any of these foot soak solutions.
For skin that is soft and smooth after a Listerine foot soak, try applying petroleum jelly to the feet under a pair of cotton socks. Allow the petroleum jelly to soak into the feet overnight.
In the morning, rub calluses with pumice stone. Alternatively, repeat the Listerine foot soak to remove any dead skin that remains.