Athlete's Foot • Natural Home Remedies

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is caused by a fungal infection, akin to ringworm. It usually appears between the toes and the bottom of the foot and can spread to your toenails.  Once you have it, it is difficult to get rid of and thrives in warm, moist conditions.

Athlete's foot - Image of two large green feet

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ATHLETE’S FOOT?

Some or all of these may be present on any part of your foot:

  • Blisters
  • Burning
  • Cracking and peeling skin
  • Crumbling toenails
  • Discolored toenails
  • Dry skin
  • Itching
  • Raw skin
  • Stinging
  • Thick toenails

PREVALENCE

The NCBI estimates that 15% to 25% of people are likely to have this infection at any given time.

IS IT CONTAGIOUS?

Yes. You can get it from the gym shower or you can be infected by wearing someone else’s shoes or socks or using the same shower or towels.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

Athlete’s foot is often treated at home with over-the-counter anti-fungal meds, but there are prescription medications available as well. Your doctor may diagnose by symptoms alone but you can have a skin test to be sure. There are other types of fungus and psoriasis also can discolor and deform toenails and fingernails.

SELF TREATMENT

Others have made claims of efficacy for the following suggestions and treatments, but this information is provided as anecdotal information for your further research.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against infection. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Adequate protein
  • Antioxidant-rich foods
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Avocado
  • Bone broth
  • Coconut oil
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Omega 3-rich foods like salmon

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol, which is heavy on sugar
  • Refined carbohydrates (because they are primarily sugar)
  • Smoking, which depresses your immune system
  • Sugars, which feed fungus

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Dandelion
  • Lemon juice
  • Mullein
  • Red clover

HERBS AND SPICES

To fight fungus:

  • Black walnut
  • Calendula
  • Calendula ointment
  • Cinnamon
  • Cinnamon foot bath.  Put several cinnamon sticks in 4 cups of water and then simmer for a few minutes.  Let it sit for 45 minutes, strain and soak your feet for half an hour daily.
  • Cloves
  • Garlic
  • Goldenseal
  • Grapefruit seed extract applied topically and full strength, 2-3 times a day
  • Neem
  • Olive leaf extract
  • Pau D’arco, internally and externally
  • Spearmint
  • Turmeric
  • Turmeric, ½ tsp mixed with 1 tsp aloe vera gel applied to affected areas twice daily for two weeks and then once daily thereafter
  • Usnea
  • Wormwood

To boost immunity:

  • Astragalus
  • Ginseng

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath.

  • Blends of oils, like almond oil, tea tree, myrrh and lavender
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Grapefruit seed oil
  • H-Athletes Foot (combination of oils)
  • Lavender, topically on the affected area
  • Lemongrass
  • Manuka honey
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Rose Geranium
  • Tea tree oil—50% solution with water, effective for 64 percent of trial participants in a scientific study (tea tree oil is strong and could have side effects).  Try for at least six months.
  • Thyme

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin E to relieve itching and heal skin, topically
  • Zinc powder topically

HYDRATION

Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

That exercise is beneficial to overall health and immunity is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to stay mellow.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Add finely crushed cloves to your foot bath and soak for 30 minutes. Mince a few cloves and mix with olive oil and rub on the affected area. Or, chop up cloves and put them between your toes with socks on your feet at night. Using undiluted minced garlic on your skin might burn or cause a rash.
  • Apply a baking soda paste to your feet and between the toes as often as possible, let it sit for a while and wash off with water.
  • Apply a combination of extracts of onion and garlic.
  • Baking soda in your socks to keep your feet dry (fungus thrives in dark, damp places)
  • Boil your socks occasionally.
  • Diatomaceous earth, taken in water daily and rubbed on your feet at night
  • Epsom salt soaks
  • Foot bath of dandelion root tea, tea tree oil, black walnut extract and vinegar
  • Honey and brewer’s yeast—mixed and applied twice a day
  • Keep your toenails short because the fungus can live under the nails.
  • Kombucha Scoby culture dabbed on skin
  • Make a solution of chopped ginger steeped in boiling water and after it has cooled, apply to affected areas as often as practical.
  • Natural, unsweetened yogurt can be applied, allowed to dry and washed off.
  • Purely Earth advertises a recipe for treating athlete’s foot with their clay, ACV, manuka oil, oregano oil and their own Vitamin E cream.
  • Remove dead skin where living fungi reside.  In the shower, use a bristle scrub brush on the area.
  • Rub Coconut oil on skin and then sprinkle with powdered acidophilus, esp. between toes. Cover with cotton socks.
  • Several black tea bags in a quart of warm water–let it sit for a while and use as a foot bath.
  • Soak feet in a solution of 2 cups of white wine that has been simmered with an ounce of sage and an ounce of agrimony for 20 minutes.
  • Soak feet in urine.
  • Soak feet in water that has been steeped with a generous amount of oregano leaves a few times a day.
  • Soak feet in white vinegar for 20 minutes each day, dry thoroughly and sprinkle a mix of some of the herbs mentioned above.
  • Soak in a mixture of salt and organic apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Soak your feet in diluted vinegar to help dry up blisters.
  • Soak your feet in salt water to dry up blisters.
  • Soak your foot in a 1-1 solution of vinegar and Listerine for 30 minutes each day.  Don’t use the colored Listerines because they will stain your skin.  Some say it’s helpful to add some grapefruit oil to the mixture. You can use this mixture several times before discarding.
  • Soak your foot in saltwater (2 tsp salt per pint of warm water), for several minutes at a time and repeat until the skin is healthy.
  • Spray a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide (1 part) and distilled water (8 parts).  You also can soak your feet in the mixture.
  • Spray colloidal silver on your feet.
  • Use a paste of ozonated olive oil (made with a cold plasma ozone generator and available online); rub on dry feet every morning and night.
  • Use a rag dampened with Lysol to wipe out the insides of your shoes, each time you remove them.  Then air your shoes out (outdoors if possible).

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

  • Chinese Medicine
  • Homeopathy https://www.drhomeo.com/homeopathic-treatment/homeopathic-medicines-for-athletes-foot/)

CAUTIONS

  • Untreated, the condition can lead to a bacterial infection through cracks in the skin.
  • You’ll find other suggestions online that some consider “natural,” but soaking your feet in bleach may not be a good idea. We have water filters to eliminate chlorine for a reason. Do serious research before you use mouthwash, isopropyl alcohol (a solvent that may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting or coma) or dandruff shampoo, Please don’t spray Tilex on your skin.

PREVENTION

  • Wear shower sandals in public or shared showers.
  • Keep your feet dry.
  • Dry your feet well after washing (even using a hairdryer).
  • Wear different shoes every day.
  • Don’t share towels with an infected person.
  • Wear sandals as often as possible.
  • Use an antiseptic cleaner in the shower after use.
  • Wear socks made from wool or cotton with at least 30% man-made fibers like polyester or nylon.
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