Home Therapies Foot baths: instructions, tips, risks

Foot baths: instructions, tips, risks

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 470 views

Foot baths are not only good for cold winter days. A foot bath is also a suitable home remedy for colds, athlete’s foot and circulatory disorders or for detoxifying the body. Depending on the desired effect, you can enrich your foot bath with a wide variety of additives, such as dried herbs, oils or salt. The effect can also be influenced by the water temperature. Read everything you need to know about foot baths here.

What are foot baths?

Foot baths are among the applications of hydrotherapy (water therapy). Its beneficial effects have been known for centuries. Sebastian Kneipp integrated the water treatments into his Kneipp therapy.

Warm, cold and ascending footbaths as well as alternating footbaths have proven effective. In addition to the water temperature, the additive used in foot baths can also vary. Temperature and additives influence the effect of the application – it can be relaxing to stimulating, warming or cooling, antibacterial, skin care and much more.

Foot baths: effect

How and against what a foot bath works depends essentially on which additives are used and whether warm or cold water is used. It is also important for the effect whether you bathe your feet at a constant temperature or expose them to an ascending foot bath or an alternating foot bath.

Foot baths with additives

If you add certain active ingredients to the foot bath water, these enter the body through the pores of the skin and develop their specific effect there.

Depending on which substances you add to the water, you will achieve different effects. Popular additions include:

  • Rosemary : As an additive in a foot bath, it has a stimulating effect that promotes blood circulation. Especially in the morning after getting up, a rosemary footbath is a good idea to stimulate the circulation and drive away the last bit of tiredness.
  • Chamomile : A foot bath with chamomile can have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties and can speed up wound healing .
  • Oak bark : An oak bark footbath has been proven effective for nail fungus. Used regularly, oak bark footbaths are said to have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect and slow down the growth of nail fungus.
  • Magnesium : Normally, the diet (or dietary supplement) is the preferred source of the essential mineral. But not every organism can use the magnesium supplied in this way. A magnesium footbath is therefore particularly suitable for people with gastric dysfunction. The mineral diffuses through the skin into the body, where it can be used immediately.
  • Baking soda : Naturopathic medicine considered excess acid in the body to be bad for health and well-being. Baking soda is considered a proven acid neutralizer: A basic footbath with the addition of baking soda is supposed to rid the body of acidic waste products and pollutants and thus balance the acid-base balance. Whether an alkaline foot bath actually has a health-promoting effect has not been scientifically proven.
  • Mustard flour : A mustard flour foot bath is one of the naturopathic stimulation therapies. This is due to the essential mustard oils that are released in the process and penetrate through the skin to the respiratory tract and head. The mustard flour foot bath is said to have a metabolism- and blood circulation-promoting and thus anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Vinegar or apple cider vinegar: A foot bath with vinegar/apple cider vinegar can help against sweaty feet. The vinegar or apple cider vinegar kills the bacteria that are responsible for the unpleasant smell.
  • Salt : Sometimes a little salt (sea salt or simple household salt) is enough as a foot bath additive. This results in an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, a foot bath with salt is very inexpensive.
  • Lavender oil : Long walks, tight shoes, dry heating air – the feet have to endure a lot and are often neglected when it comes to care. A warm foot bath with lavender oil calms and relaxes stressed skin and keeps it supple.

Warm and cold foot baths

A warm foot bath can soothe, relax and promote sleep. The warm water stimulates the body to dilate the vessels. That lowers blood pressure.

Cold footbaths have exactly the opposite effect: They stimulate the circulation, constrict the vessels and can thus increase blood pressure.

Ascending and alternating footbaths

Rising footbaths have a similar effect to a warm footbath. The water temperature is slowly increasing here.

In contrast baths, the feet are alternately dipped in warm and cold water. This stimulates blood flow and circulation.

Detoxifying foot baths (detox foot bath, electrolysis foot bath)

Detox has become a trend in naturopathy. There is now a wide range of detox products as well as special nutritional and home remedy recommendations for detoxifying the body. This also includes detox foot baths. These are foot baths to which a special salt solution has been added beforehand and which are carried out in devices specially developed for this purpose. In the devices, electricity is used to split molecules in salt water into charged particles (ions) (electrolysis). Some of the ions enter the body through the skin. There they should neutralize pollutants and support their removal. However, this theory has not been scientifically proven.

When do you do foot baths?

Foot baths have proven themselves for the following complaints, for example:

  • Foot bath for sweaty feet : Sweaty feet are uncomfortable. A foot bath can reduce perspiration. For example, a warm foot bath with oak bark and ivy is recommended .
  • Foot bath for swollen legs : Standing for long periods, summer heat and pregnancy can cause severe swelling of legs and feet. Women are particularly affected because their connective tissue is weaker and reacts more sensitively to heat, for example. Treading water, a variant of the cold foot bath, can help here. A warm salt foot bath also brings relief from swollen legs and feet.
  • Footbath for colds : Increasing footbaths are recommended against the onset of a cold. You can add a spruce needle extract to the water.
  • Foot soak for corns: Soothing, disinfecting and anti-inflammatory chamomile can help against corns in the form of a warm chamomile foot bath .
  • Footbath for nail bed inflammation : A salt footbath, which has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, is ideal for nail bed inflammation.
  • Footbath for headaches and migraines : Alternating footbaths promote blood circulation. They help with tension headaches and migraines. A mustard flour foot bath can also relieve headaches and migraines.
  • Foot bath for insomnia : A warm foot bath in the evening can help with insomnia.
  • Footbath for sluggish bowels : If you are constipated, you can try a mustard footbath. According to naturopathy, if you suffer from chronic constipation, warm footbaths can help.
  • Footbath for inflamed paranasal sinuses : A warm mustard footbath can be good for sinusitis.
  • Foot bath for urinary tract infections : In the case of infections of the urinary tract (such as cystitis), an ascending foot bath can be helpful.
  • Foot bath for abdominal pain : An ascending foot bath is recommended for menstrual problems and chronic inflammation of the fallopian tubes and ovaries (adnexitis). Such a foot bath can be helpful for men with chronic inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis).
  • Foot bath against athlete’s foot : Athlete’s foot is often an annoying souvenir from the swimming pool. If it hits you, a vinegar or apple cider vinegar foot bath can help to heal.
  • Footbath against calluses : Anyone who wants to gently remove annoying calluses on the soles of their feet is well advised to take a warm footbath. The warm water, possibly enriched with a little lavender oil, softens the calluses. It can then be easily removed with a pumice stone, for example.

If you tend to get cold feet, you can also use a warm foot bath.

How do you do a foot bath?

With or without addition? Warm or cold? Depending on the symptoms, you can make a suitable foot bath yourself.

Warm and cold foot baths

With a warm foot bath, the water temperature should be between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius. The bathing time is about ten minutes. Depending on the addition, you can use warm foot baths one to three times a day.

The water temperature for the cold foot bath should be between 8 and 18 degrees Celsius. The bathing time is significantly shorter, between 30 seconds and two minutes.

Soaring foot baths

For an ascending foot bath, fill a bowl or foot tub with warm water (about 35 degrees Celsius). Put your feet in it and, within about 20 minutes, pour in enough hot water to raise the temperature to around 40 to 45 degrees Celsius. Keep your feet in the hot water for about five minutes.

alternating foot baths

For a contrast bath you need two large buckets. The water should reach an inch below your kneecap. Fill one bucket with warm water (about 38 degrees) and the other with cold water (about 18 degrees). Soak both legs in the warm water for about five to ten minutes and then in the cold water for five to ten seconds. Repeat the process three times. Important: Always end with a cold foot bath!

water treading

Treading water is a variant of the cold foot bath. You need cold water of about 8 to 18 degrees Celsius and enough space. A large bucket, a tub or a bathtub with a non-slip surface is therefore best suited. The water should reach just below the kneecap. Alternately raise each leg so that the sole of your foot comes out of the water (stork walk).

On average, treading water should last 20 seconds to two minutes, preferably once or twice a day. As a rule of thumb, the colder the water, the shorter the application.

Foot baths with additives

  • Rosemary foot bath : Boil two tablespoons of dried rosemary in one liter of water and let the mixture steep for ten minutes. Then pour off through a sieve and put the rosemary stock in a bowl or foot bath with warm water. Soak your feet in it for about 15 minutes.
  • Chamomile foot bath : For this you need dried chamomile flowers, about 50 grams per ten liters of water. Pour boiling water over the required amount of chamomile flowers and let them steep for ten minutes. Then strain, add to the warm foot bath water and soak your feet in it for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Oak Bark/Ivy Foot Bath : Mix equal parts oak bark and ivy and pour a quart of boiling water over a handful. Let steep for about 15 minutes, then strain. Put the brew in a bowl of warm water (approx. 36 to 40 degrees Celsius) and soak your feet in it for about ten minutes. Repeat the foot bath once a day for several weeks. You can also use sage leaves instead of oak bark.
  • Magnesium foot bath : Add 25 milliliters of “magnesium oil” (30% aqueous solution of magnesium salt) from the pharmacy to a bowl with about two liters of warm water.
  • Baking soda foot bath : Dissolve about 3 teaspoons of baking soda from the pharmacy in a large bowl of 37 degree water. Using a test strip, adjust the pH of the baking soda water to between 8.0 and a maximum of 8.5 (with the addition of either more water or baking soda). Soak your feet in it for at least half an hour and up to an hour.
  • Mustard flour foot bath : Put about 10 to 30 grams of black mustard flour (pharmacy, health food store) in a foot bath filled with max. 38 degrees warm water. Mix well. Then dip your feet in the water (the water should be below your knees). As soon as your skin starts to burn (after about two to ten minutes), leave your feet in the water for about five to ten minutes. Then rinse with warm water, dry, rub with oil and rest in bed for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar Foot Soak : In a bowl of warm water, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar/vinegar and 1/2 cup of salt. Soak your feet in it twice a day for ten minutes each time.
  • Salt foot bath : Dissolve half a cup of (sea) salt in a large bowl of 37 degree water. Soak your feet in it for about ten minutes.
  • Lavender Oil Foot Soak : Add five drops of lavender oil to a bowl of warm water. Soak your feet in it for about five minutes. Then dry thoroughly, especially between the toes. A subsequent brush massage loosens loose skin cells. Then cream your feet.

Detox foot baths

Some physiotherapists and naturopaths offer detox foot baths. However, you can also buy a suitable device yourself. For the foot bath you need warm water and salt. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparation and use. The bathing time is usually around 30 minutes.

After the footbath

After the foot bath, you should normally just wipe the water off your feet and slip into warm socks immediately. After a relaxing foot bath, you should rest for around 30 minutes. After a stimulating footbath, on the other hand, you should walk around for a few minutes to support the stimulating effect of the footbath.

After a nourishing foot bath (e.g. with lavender ), you should dry your feet well, including between your toes. Afterwards you can rub your feet with a moisturizing foot lotion and put on warm socks.

What are the risks of footbaths?

Foot baths should be used with caution on open wounds. In particular, baths with irritating additives such as salt or mustard flour are then less suitable.

If you suffer from cardiovascular diseases (such as high blood pressure, cardiac insufficiency), you should definitely check with your doctor before use whether foot baths are suitable for you. Even if you are acutely nauseous, dizzy, at risk of thrombosis or if you are very restless, you should initially refrain from footbaths and speak to a doctor first.

Contraindications for certain foot baths

Warm footbaths should not be used if:

  • Varicose veins (varicose veins)
  • phlebitis
  • peripheral arterial disease (PAD, smoker’s leg or claudication)
  • Diseases of the peripheral nerves (polyneuropathies)
  • increased risk of thrombosis

You should avoid ascending foot baths if you:

  • chronic vein weakness (chronic venous insufficiency)
  • increased risk of thrombosis
  • Varicose veins (varicose veins)
  • diabetic foot syndrome
  • peripheral arterial disease (PAD, smoker’s leg or claudication)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)

Alternating foot baths are contraindicated in:

  • peripheral arterial disease (PAD, smoker’s leg or claudication)
  • pronounced varicose veins (varicose veins)
  • increased risk of thrombosis
  • Tendency to cramping of the vessels (vascular spasms)
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)

Electrolysis footbaths may not be used in the following cases, for example:

  • with electronic implants such as a cardiac pacemaker
  • after organ transplants
  • during pregnancy
  • in epilepsy
  • in acute viral infections

What do I have to consider with a foot bath?

It is important that you stick to the recommended water temperatures: for warm footbaths around 37 degrees, for cold footbaths 8 to 18 degrees and for rising footbaths a maximum of 45 degrees final temperature – unless your doctor recommends a different temperature.

If you want to use additives, you should test beforehand whether you may be allergic to them. To do this, dab a little of the respective substance (e.g. lavender oil) on the crook of your arm and let it work for a few minutes. If skin irritations such as redness or pustules develop at the site, you should not use the additive for your foot bath.

You should only do a mustard flour foot bath once a day, preferably in the morning. If you want to do it as a cure (eg for migraines), then the foot bath is recommended two to three times a week for several weeks.

If the burning sensation that occurs with a mustard flour foot bath becomes too severe, discontinue use. The same applies if the skin becomes too red or painful.

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time, do not get better or even get worse, you should always consult a doctor.

You may also like

Leave a Comment