Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection also known as tinea pedis which is caused by fungi thriving in the warm, moist areas between the toes, making it cracked, sore, and itchy with peeling areas. The infection can spread from the toes to the bottoms and sides of the feet. It is common in those who do not wash their feet as frequently as they should. It is usually picked up through communal changing rooms and other damp environments. It is a contagious skin infection which can spread quickly by direct skin-to-skin contact and indirectly through towels.
Athlete’s Foot Symptoms
- Irritation and itchiness between the toes and on the soles of your feet.
- Peeling skin and blisters.
- Unpleasant odor.
- Often a small degree of scaling.
- Painful cracks between the toes.
- Toenails can become infected too, become thick, crumbly, discolored or pulling away from the nail bed.
Home Remedies for Athlete’s Foot
- Baking soda: Baking soda paste can be used between toes if the fungus is there. To make this paste, add a few drops of water to one tablespoon of baking soda. Rub it all over the irritated area, rinse off, and powder your feet with corn starch.
- White vinegar: Soak feet in a very warm solution of one part of white vinegar to four part of water for 20-30 minutes twice a day.
- Salt: Add 2 teaspoons of salt to 500ml of warm water. Soak your feet for 5 to 10 minutes for a soothing effect. Repeat this soak at frequent intervals until your feet completely healed and the skin is no longer peeling.
- Tea tree oil: Apply tea tree oil directly to the infected area. If the toenail is infected, cut the nail as much as possible and apply pure tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties. Prolonged and repeated topical use of tree oil can lead to dermatitis.
- Garlic: Apply crushed raw garlic or garlic gel directly to the affected area 2 or 3 times a day for 1-2 weeks. Garlic act as a antiseptic, and is powerful anti-fungal. Garlic has virtually no side effects when used topically, although sometime it can cause minor irritation.
- Calendula (Marigold): Apply an ointment with a 2 to 5% marigold to the affected area. Discontinue the use if there is any allergic reaction. Calendula is valued for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and wound healing properties.
- Cloves: Apply essential oil of cloves topically 4-5 times a day. Cloves have known antifungal properties. Side effects of topical application of cloves include dermatitis.
- Yogurt: Simply dab the plain yogurt on the infected areas, allow to dry and rinse off. Yogurt contains live acidophilus bacteria which helps to keep the fungus in check. Don’t use flavored yogurts.
Do’s for Athlete’s Foot
- Clean and thoroughly dry your feet daily and expose them to the open air as much as possible.
- Use cotton socks so that your feet can breath and change your socks everyday.
- Wear well-ventilated shoes made from natural rather than synthetic materials; open-toed sandals are particularly good.
- Use a separate towel just for drying feet, and wash the towel frequently.
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains as these food will support immune system and feed healthy bacteria.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day to assist in flushing out toxins.
- Take vitamin C to enhance your immune system.
Don’ts for Athlete’s Foot
- Avoid hot, fatty and greasy foods which can aggravate the condition.
- Avoid hot, fatty, greasy, and fermented food which can aggravate this condition.
- Avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates, which fuel yeast and help athlete’s foot to reproduce.
- Avoid communal changing areas and showers.
- Don’t share items such as towels and footwear of an infected person.
- Don’t walk bare feet in public locker rooms.
- Affected area becomes hot and red, or starts weeping.
- Infection does not clear up after trying self-help treatment.