Tinea pedis, more commonly called athlete’s foot, is a fungal infection of the skin on the foot characterized by a sore, itchy rash. It is a type of ringworm and generally manifests as one of three varieties: toe web, vesicular, or moccasin. This fungus loves to grow in moist, warm places, making your feet and shoes the ideal breeding ground. If you find yourself with this condition, you can try some natural anti-fungal home remedies before breaking out the store-bought creams and powders, although most of them are not as effective as over-the-counter treatments. If natural treatments don’t work, you should see your doctor for prescription treatment. Also, the best course of action is to prevent the fungus in the first place, so you’ll find some tips for doing that as well.
Look for moist, pale skin.
Athlete’s foot manifests in three general varieties. “Toe web infection” generally begins with pale, moist-looking skin. The skin usually itches or burns, and may smell unusual. It is usually fairly easy to treat.
This type of infection usually occurs between your fourth and fifth (or “pinky”) toes.
As the infection progresses, the skin between your toes may develop scales, cracks, or begin peeling. In severe cases, a bacterial infection may also occur. This bacterial infection can extend to the lower leg if left untreated, causing a condition called cellulitis.
Toe web infections may also cause sudden blisters to form.
Look for blistering.
The vesicular variety of athlete’s foot usually starts with a crop of red, inflamed, fluid-filled blisters on your feet, often on the soles. This condition can begin as an untreated toe web infection. This variety is usually treatable at home.
In more severe cases, a bacterial condition can also develop.
You may also develop blisters on your palms, sides of your fingers, or other areas of skin that have come into contact with your feet.
Look for dry, scaly skin.
The “moccasin” variety of athlete’s foot causes the skin on your feet, especially on the sole or heel, to become dry, irritated, and itchy. This variety can become chronic and is very hard to treat.
Other signs of the moccasin variety are burning, thickening of the skin, and cracking of the skin. In extreme cases, your toenails can develop the infection and thicken, fall apart, or fall off. You have to treat fungal infection of the toenails separately.
Wash your feet.
Always wash and dry your feet before trying these treatments. Thoroughly clean your feet with soap and warm water. Rinse away any soap residue.
This vinegar solution works best in conjunction with another treatment, such as tea tree oil. It likely won’t cure athlete’s foot by itself, but it will help keep your feet dry. In addition, it will help kill off bacteria, helping to eliminate odor.
Dry your feet.
Make sure your feet are thoroughly dry before applying any treatment. Try not to use the towel you used on your feet elsewhere on your body.
Mix vinegar and water.
Add 1 cup of vinegar to 4 cups of water. You can increase the amount of solution, but keep it a 1:4 ratio.
This treatment can be good for pregnant women with athlete’s foot, as it will not affect the fetus.
You can also use a bleach solution to soak your feet. Add ¼ cup household bleach to a bath full of warm water. Don’t use this soak if you are pregnant.
Rinse your feet.
Twice a day, rinse your feet in the vinegar solution. Shake off the liquid when done. Only use as much as you need for each treatment and don’t reuse the solution.
Dry your feet.
Use a towel to dry off your feet, and then use another solution such as tea tree oil.
Pick the right concentration.
While a treatment that is 10% tea tree oil will help with the symptoms, it won’t cure it completely. You need at least 25-50% to cure the fungus, and even then it may not work as well as other over-the-counter anti-fungal medications.
Tea tree oil can be used to treat symptoms of athlete’s foot, but it is usually not effective as a cure.
It may be more effective at treating toe web athlete’s foot than other types.
You can look for a cream with the proper concentration, or mix 1 to 2 parts 100% pure tea tree oil with 2 parts ethyl alcohol.
Apply the treatment to your clean feet.
Rub the treatment all over your foot, including the top, bottom, and sides. Don’t forget to get in between your toes. The fungus might be in places you can’t see it.
Wash your hands after applying.
Athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of your body, so be sure to wash your hands after you apply any creams.
Apply it twice a day.
To be effective, you need to apply the cream in the morning and at night. Also, you may need to use this treatment for up to a month.
Chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic.
Garlic has natural antiseptic properties that may help treat athlete’s foot. One study showed that a commercial cream containing ajoene, the active compound in garlic, treated athlete’s foot as well as other creams. Some experts recommend adding chopped garlic to a foot soak for the same effect.
Soak your clean feet for 30 minutes.
Wash your feet first, then soak them in the garlic bath.
Dry your feet.
Use a clean towel to dry your feet completely. Don’t forget to dry in between your toes.
Mix minced garlic with olive oil.
You can also prepare a treatment using minced garlic and a little olive oil. Mix 2 cloves of minced garlic with enough olive oil to create a paste. Use a cotton-tipped swab to apply the paste to your clean feet wherever the infection is present. Continue this treatment for at least one month.
Garlic is usually safe. However, it may cause a mild stinging sensation on the skin, and it is likely to cause a pungent garlic odor.
Keep moisture at bay.
If your feet sweat a great deal, try to let them air out when you can by removing your socks and shoes. If you can’t remove your socks, change them often, especially when they get sweaty.
Wear shoes in communal areas.
When you go to the gym, don’t try going barefoot in the locker room or around the pool. Always protect your feet by wearing sandals or shower shoes.
Keep your feet clean.
Make sure to wash your feet often. Also, be sure to clean between your toes and to dry your feet off thoroughly. Wash your feet twice daily if you can.
Keep your shoes to yourself.
If you let someone borrow your shoes, you can pass athlete’s foot back and forth. Only wear your own shoes, and don’t lend them to other people.
In the same vein, don’t share anything that comes in contact with your feet, such as pedicure tools and towels.
Pick natural fibers.
When choosing shoes and socks, pick ones that contain natural fibers, as they tend to breathe better than synthetic fibers. Also, choose shoes that have built-in ventilation to help keep your feet dry.
Additionally, make sure your shoes are not too tight, as that can make your feet sweat more.
Change shoes regularly.
To keep fungus from growing, change out the insoles on your shoes or change them completely on a regular basis, such as once every 6 months or after using it for 500 miles.
Never wear worn-out running shoes.
Replace shoes that are worn-out or have lost the cushioning for arch support. Make sure the shoes work in favor of your feet and not against them!