Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection that arises when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. Athlete’s foot can be acquired through contact – either with an infected person, or somewhere else the fungus is present (e.g. a shower.)
As with most infections, certain factors increase the risk of developing athlete’s foot, including:
- Not properly washing one’s feet
- Having sweaty feet
- Long periods of being wet
- Open wound exposure on the skin or nail
- Sharing clothing, shoes, or socks
- Walking barefoot around public places
Common symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
- Itchy blisters on the feet
- Nails that are powdery, discolored, and thick
- Dry skin on the soles and sides of the feet
- Burning, itching, and stinging between the toes and on the foot soles
- Cracking, drying, peeling skin
- Toenails that separate from the nail bed
Curing athlete’s foot
You can always go with a good anti-fungal foot powder or spray, but you don’t have to. Here are eight ways to cure your athlete’s foot naturally:
1. Apple cider vinegar and crystal salt
A mixture of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and Himalayan crystal salt creates a potent acidic substance that makes it impossible for the fungus to live.
Mix ½ cup of ACV, two tablespoons of crystal salt, and warm water to make a batch. Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes. When finished, dry your feet thoroughly with a clean towel.
2. Baking soda
Baking soda is a miracle ingredient, so it isn’t surprising that it also kills athlete’s foot fungus. Also called sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a natural antifungal and antibacterial.
To make a foot soak, combine a half cup of baking soda in a bucket of lukewarm water. Twice daily, soak your feet for 20 minutes. Towel dry thoroughly.
Garlic is another spice that has great antibacterial and antifungal properties. Studies demonstrate that garlic clove effectively kills several germs, including tinea pedis, the bacterium that causes athlete’s foot.
Mash three garlic cloves and stir them into a small tub of warm water. Soak your feet for a half an hour. Repeat once more during the evening hours for a week.
4. Green Tea
In a promising 12-week study, researchers found that patients with athlete’s foot who soaked their feet in a water and green tea extract solution showed “significantly better” results than those who did a water-only soak.
Brew up some green tea and let it cool. Soak for about 10 minutes once a day.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and fungus with ease. Because of the potent chemical makeup of hydrogen peroxide, it is advisable to mix the solution with water. Also, if you have open sores or cuts on your feet, be aware that submersion in hydrogen peroxide will probably sting.
Combine hydrogen peroxide with a small tub of lukewarm water. The mix should be about 70 percent peroxide and 30 percent water.
6. Open-style Shoes
No real magic here; moisture and humidity allow bacteria and fungus to thrive. Wearing open-toed shoes (e.g. sandals or flip-flops) will help with this.
If you must wear business shoes at work, don’t wear tight-fitting shoes. The same goes for casual footwear.
7. Plain Yogurt
Plain yogurt contains the acidophilus bacteria, considered by some as an “instant remedy” for athlete’s foot. While this is debatable, plain yogurt is a good choice nonetheless.
Plain yogurt provides a potent antidote against proliferating foot fungus. Simply dip your (clean!) finger in some yo-go and apply to the affected areas. Allow the product to dry, rinse, and dry your feet thoroughly.
8. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil may provide some relief for an athlete’s foot. The topical application of a 10% tea tree oil cream helps relieve symptoms such as “scaling inflammation, itching and burning.” A tea tree oil solution with a 25 to 50 percent concentration seems to clear up athlete’s foot for about half of those who apply it for four weeks.
Preventing athlete’s foot
Here are a few good tips for preventing athlete’s foot:
- Keep your feet dry whenever possible
- Avoid submerging your skin for too long
- Towel dry your feet thoroughly after showering
- Always wear flip-flops or other footwear in community areas
- Use anti-fungal powder after washing your feet
- Keep your socks and shoes clean (foot powder helps)
- Don’t share clothing, especially socks or footwear
- Wash your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes
- Take off your shoes whenever possible
If you notice any strange-appearing skin, apply anti-fungal spray or cream immediately.