Athlete’s foot is an irritating fungal infection BUT is not confined to athletes. Anyone can pick it up by walking barefoot on damp floors in changing rooms, bathrooms or at the swimming pool.
Luckily, there is no need to suffer as you can treat athlete’s foot at home. Once it takes hold though, it is best to deal with it quickly and be tough with it.
Below are several remedies to fight the fungus and soothe itching that results. There is also some prevention tips to ensure you stop it for good so it doesn’t strike again. By trying one or more of these natural methods, you can be rid of athlete’s foot in no time.
But first, let’s take a look at what causes this condition.
What is Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus called tinea pedis. This sneaky intruder causes skin to redden, crack, burn, scale, and itch and can target the nails, skin and hair.
For athlete’s foot, the fungus invades the area between the toes resulting in the classic symptoms of itchy, flaking skin. Sometimes tinea stays between the toes, but it may also appear on the soles and sides of the feet or even spread to the toenails.
Severe cases of athlete’s foot can be accompanied by blisters. Warm, dance floors are another common breeding ground for tinea, but it loves any warm, moist place. So the feet, often confined in sweaty shoes and socks, make an ideal breeding ground.
Let’s take a look at some remedies you can use to treat athlete’s foot at home.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree essential oil has amazing anti-fungal properties, making it an excellent first choice for treating your athlete’s foot. It makes it hard for tinea to take hold as it alters the environment of the skin.
Simply put several drops on a cotton swab and gently wipe onto the affected area. Do this after waking up and before going to bed, and you should see great improvement. Direct application can sting so you may prefer one of the other options below.
Another soothing, healing treatment is to mix equal parts tea tree oil with olive oil and rub the combined oils onto the affected area twice a day. Olive oil helps to tenderize skin toughened by athlete’s foot so that the tea tree oil is better absorbed.
Alternatively, mix tea tree oil with aloe vera gel, another skin softener. Mix three parts tea tree oil to one part aloe vera gel and rub the mixture into the infected area twice a day. This treatment may take a bit longer to work.
Calendula is highly valued as a topical treatment for wounds and skin conditions. This herbal healer is said to have both anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory powers.
Make an anti-fungal foot soak as follows:
- Pour 500ml boiling water over 4 tablespoons of dried calendula flowers
- Allowed to steep until lukewarm
- Strain and pour into a basin large enough to hold both feet.
Optional – add a cup full of apple cider vinegar, which also fights the athlete’s foot fungus and encourages the skin to heal.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract can also be taken internally as a complementary therapy, killing the fungus from within. Just be sure to dilute it by adding to water or juice when drinking it. Juice is preferable as it has a very bitter taste if not masked.
Bicarbonate of Soda
Simple bicarbonate of soda can relieve the itching and burning between your toes or on your feet.
Add enough water to 1 tablespoon of bicarb to make a paste. Rub the paste in well, rinse and thoroughly dry your feet. Finish off with a list liberal dusting of cornflour (don’t forget in between the toes).
For a soothing foot soak, add 2 teaspoons of salt per 500ml of warm water into a tub. Soak your feet for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat this at frequent intervals until your feet have completely healed and the skin is no longer peeling.
Tea Foot Soak
Ordinary tea contains tannic acid, a natural astringent that works wonderfully to dry out sweaty feet.
Steep 5 bags (any variety will do, though not herbal) in a litre of boiling water for 5 minutes.,. Leave to cool to lukewarm, then soak your feet in the tea bath for up to 30 minutes.
You can fight athlete’s foot with food! Plain yogurt contains live acidophilus bacteria – an instant remedy for athlete’s foot. These friendly microorganisms keep the fungus in check.
Simply dab the yoghurt on the infected areas, allow to dry and rinse off. Don’t use flavoured yogurt for this one – only plain will do.
Other Topical Applications
Here are some other suggestions for topical applications that may seem a little strange but have been found to work by athlete’s foot sufferers. These can all be applied directly to your feet 3 or 4 times a day.
Fresh Air and Sunlight
There aren’t many things sunlight won’t cure and athlete’s foot is one of the conditions it can help to fight. Assuming that your climate and time of year allows it, take time every day to expose your bare feet to the sunlight.
Take off your shoes, and walk around in your bare feet (but not on bare floors where you risk passing on the infection). This gives your feet time to breathe, and the sunlight acts in a healing manner.
Fresh air allows the feet to remain clean and free of sweat, which is important in getting rid of athlete’s foot.
Stop Athlete’s Foot For Good
To ensure that athletes foot does not recur or to prevent it taking hold in the first place, there are several things you can do to prevent it from happening.
- After a bath or shower, dry your feet thoroughly. Use a hair dryer on the lowest setting to dry between your toes.
- Wear clean cotton socks (or other natural fibre) as they will absorb moisture best and allow your feet to breath. If your feet sweat a lot, change socks regularly during the day to keep your feet dry.
- Be sure to wash your socks in very hot water to kill any tinea fungus spores. Set your washing machine to 60C to do the trick.
- Shoes made of canvas or leather are a better option than rubber or plastic. These will allow your feet to breathe and not sweat.
- Avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row. It can take at least a day for shoes to dry out if your feet sweat heavily. So change your shoes more often.
- Make an antifungal foot spray and spray it onto the affected area once a day after showering. Use this combination: 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 10 drops of tea tree essential oil,125 mls of apple cider vinegar. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before applying.
- Wear rubber thongs in public places where people go barefoot. This includes health clubs, gyms, changing rooms and areas around public swimming pools.
Athlete’s foot is unsightly, but it can be cured through the use of the natural, non-invasive treatments listed above.
Give home treatments some time to work. But, if your symptoms are severe see your doctor. The most important thing is to not leave a fungal infection untreated. It can result in cracked skin which allows infection causing bacteria to get in. And that will lead to more problems.
Try the remedies and prevention measures listed above and you’ll be rid of this nasty affliction in no time and stop it for good.