Bsc, (Med) Bsc, (Nutrition), MBBS, DCN (Diploma in Clinical Neurology) – Reviewed & Approved on October 26, 2018
-Written by Angela Deckard
Got more than just a great workout at the gym? Feeling an itching burning on the crevices and tops of your feet? Is the skin on your feet starting to look scalier than a lizard? Sounds like you may have a case of athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that loves to live in damp, warm areas. You can typically find the fungus of this infection between your toes, between your fingers, on the toenails, and on the tops of your feet.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Not sure if you have athlete’s foot? This infection typically starts out between the toes with a red scaly rash. This rash is really itchy, especially right after you take off your shoes.
Some people mistake athlete’s foot for eczema because the rash often takes on a scaly appearance accompanied with patches of dry skin. Athlete’s foot can affect one or both of the feet. Be careful, this rash can spread to your hands if you scratch or pick at the rash.
If your rash does not clear up after a couple weeks of treatment, schedule an appointment with your physician. You should also seek medical assistance if you have diabetes or if your rash is accompanied with a fever, or excessive swelling, redness, or draining.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is born through the same fungus responsible for causing jock itch and ringworm. This fungus thrives in humid and warm conditions that encourage its growth.
Athlete’s foot is extremely contagious and can easily spread or contracted. Athlete’s foot is spread through contact with contaminated surfaces such as floors, shoes, and towels, or through contact with a contaminated person.
Who is Most at Risk for Contracting Athlete’s Foot?
You may be most at risk for contracting athlete’s foot if you fit the following criteria:
- You are a man
- You share shoes, clothes, mats, linens, and towels with a person suffering from a fungal infection.
- You wear tight fitting shoes and damp socks
- You walk barefoot in public areas where the fungus grows wild such as communal showers, locker rooms, pools, and saunas
- You have a weak immune system
Home Remedies for Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a common condition that can easily be treated with the following home remedies:
1) Tea Tree Oil
This powerful natural antiseptic is loaded with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial properties that will eliminate the fungus and prevent the infection from spreading.
Tea tree oil will also help kill stubborn fungus that has spread to the nails and toenails. There three different ways you use tea tree oil as a treatment:
For a soothing mixture, mix three drops of tea tree oil with one part aloe vera gel. Thoroughly wash and dry you feet. Rub this mixture directly onto the affected area for six or so weeks until the infection clears up.
- To apply tea tree oil directly to the area, dilute the area with a carrier oil such as olive oil.
- Mix equal parts of tea tree oil with the carrier oil and apply directly to the affected area.
- Before applying the tea tree oil, be sure to wash and dry your feet.
- Apply this treatment 3-4 times a day until the infection clears up.
For a healing foot soak, add 40 drops of tea tree oil to your foot-bath. Let soak for 10 minutes. After soaking your feet, thoroughly dry your feet and apply a couple drops of tea tree oil directly to the infected area.
2) Apple Cider Vinegar
The acidity of apple cider vinegar will help kill the fungus and help zap the infection. Apple cider vinegar is also loaded with antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties that will help eliminate infection and will prevent the infection from spreading. To use apple cider vinegar as a treatment:
- Mix one-part apple cider vinegar with 3 parts warm water in your foot-bath.
- Soak the infected foot or feet for 15 minutes.
- Once you’re through soaking your feet, dry them thoroughly.
- Repeat this treatment once or twice daily for a week or until your infection is gone.
If you want to apply the apple cider vinegar directly to your feet, you can apply it directly with a cotton ball.
- First, wash your feet with antiseptic soap and then dry thoroughly.
- Mix one cup of apple cider vinegar with one cup of water.
- Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and then dab onto the affected area.
- Apply this remedy twice daily for several weeks to treat and prevent the spread of athlete’s foot.
3) Epsom Salt
Epsom salt will help soothe and treat the painful sores that accompany athlete’s foot. Epsom salt is a great home remedy for athlete’s foot because it easily absorbs into the skin.
It also contains sulfate and magnesium, which will help reduce painful inflammation while draining any toxins from your body. You can use regular salt for this treatment as well but it does not provide as much benefits as Epsom salt. To use Epsom salt to treat your athlete’s foot:
- Add Epsom salt to your footbath. Soak your feet for about 10 minutes.
- Thoroughly dry your feet after soaking.
- Do this remedy three times a day until the infection clears up.
There is more to garlic besides its powerful taste and smell—its also a powerful anti microbial and anti-fungal. Garlic contains an anti-fungal compound called ajoene, which helps to eliminate the fungus responsible for the infection.
Garlic will help speed up the healing process while preventing the infection from returning. To use garlic as a home remedy, follow these guidelines:
- To make a healing garlic paste, crush a clove of garlic and mix it with a couple drops of olive oil.
- Gently apply the paste to infected area and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Wash off the area using an antibacterial soap.
- Thoroughly dry off your feet.
- Apply this remedy daily until the infection clears up.
5) Cornstarch or Baking Soda
The fungus responsible for athlete’s foot thrives in hot and moist areas. Cornstarch or baking soda won’t really address your uncomfortable symptoms but it will keep your feet dry and prevent the infection from occurring or getting worse.
- Simply sprinkle some cornstarch or baking soda between your toes before putting on your socks. Baking soda can double as a deodorant for your feet.
Did you know that onion is a fantastic anti-fungal? Onion also has effective anti-inflammatory properties that that help soothe the uncomfortable symptoms of athlete’s foot.
Meanwhile the antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antibiotic properties prevent this infection from spreading. To use onion to treat your athlete’s foot follow these guidelines:
- Grind up two onions and collect the juice using a strainer.
- Wash your feet with an antibacterial soap and then dry them off thoroughly.
- Apply the onion juice to the areas of your feet inflicted with athlete’s foot.
- Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Once the half hour is up, wash the onion juice off your feet and thoroughly dry your feet.
- Apply baking soda to your feet to keep the dry and free of infection.
Athlete’s foot is a nasty business and fortunately with a little bit of effort, you can protect yourself from the infection by following these steps:
- If you’re going to be entering a public gym, pool locker room, sauna, etc., try wearing flip flops instead of going barefoot.
- After bathing, make sure you completely dry off your feet; especially between your toes.
- Keep your toenails the shortest length you can to prevent the fungus from living underneath your toenails. Toenails that are too long can retain moisture and make infection more likely.
- Don’t leave on sweaty socks or tight shoes on for longer than you have to.
- If you tend to have sweaty feet, keep a spare pair of cotton socks with you.
- If you sweat a lot while wearing a particular pair of shoes, do no wear them the next day. Let them properly dry and air out, making them less likely to house fungus.