Athlete’s foot (scientific name tinea pedis) occurs when fungi infect the skin on the feet and toenails. It can be contagious and sometimes spreads to the hands. Athlete’s foot is caused by tinea fungus, which initially grows on the feet. This fungus commonly grows in warm and moist environments such as swimming pools, gym lockers, and showers. Tinea fungus can spread via direct contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated things and surfaces.
Athlete’s foot got its name from athletes who are commonly affected. Although considered a non-serious medical condition, athlete’s foot can give high discomfort and be hard to treat. People with diabetes and weak immune system are more susceptible to developing one.
Athlete’s foot is closely related to other fungal skin infections including ringworm and jock itch. It can cause severe itching, redness, burning sensation and skin scaling. Often, mild cases of athlete’s foot can be cured by over the counter antifungal creams and gels like miconazole (Desenex), terbinafine (Lamisil AT), clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra) and tolnaftate (Tinactin).
Athlete’s foot can be diagnosed by a skin test ordered by a doctor or by experiencing one or more of the many symptoms. Below are some of the most common symptoms of tinea fungus infection.
- Redness, burning sensation, itching, and scaling of the skin feet
- Redness, burning sensation, itching, and scaling of the skin between the toes
- Feet blisters
- Cracking and peeling of the sole
- Discolored nails
- Itching and redness of the hands
Everyone can be infected by tinea fungus. Below are the most common causes of Athlete’s Foot.
- walking barefoot in places like gym lockers, shower rooms, and swimming pools. Always use disinfectants, such as rubbing alcohol or antibacterial wipes
- Using shoes and socks of other people (especially if the person is a potential carrier)
- Wounds and cuts in the feet or hands that are left untreated
- Sweaty feet due to improper hygiene.
Natural Home Treatments for Athlete’s foot
Aside from antifungal topical creams and gels, athlete’s foot can be cured at home with various natural remedies. These natural home treatments also effectively minimize the risk of contracting tinea fungus without the side effects of chemical-based medicines.
1. Tea tree Oil
Tea tree (melaleuca) oil, which was originally formulated in Australia, is effective against athlete’s foot due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Since the early times, tea tree leaves were used as a treatment for various skin diseases by soaking them in boiling water and applying the essences on the affected area. Today, pure tea tree oil concentrate is available at supermarkets and is considered as a better treatment compared to most antifungal creams and gels. Aside from curing athlete’s foot, tea tree oil also fights bacteria that cause toenail fungus.
Before using, wash your feet and dry with clean towel. Apply tea tree oil concentrate on the affected area and massage lightly to allow the oil to enter the pores. Leave for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Do this four times a day until the symptoms are gone.
2. Grapefruit Seed oil
Grapefruit Seed Oil, which is extracted from the seeds and leaves of grapefruit, is also a potent athlete’s foot treatment because of its antimicrobial properties. In addition, grapefruit seed oil is also effective against various diseases and viruses including cold sore, acne, warts, and dandruff. This oil can be taken orally but is recommended to be applied topically for mild to moderate athlete’s foot cases.
Wash and dry your feet. Make sure that the skin in between your toenails is also dry. Apply grapefruit seed oil on the affected area. Let it rest for an hour. Repeat this process 3 to 4 times daily.
For people with recurring athlete’s foot, the best option is garlic, which is loaded with a powerful substance called ajoene that kills the fungus that causes itching, flaking, and redness. Since the early times, garlic has been a vital source of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory treatments.
To make garlic soak, cut one large garlic into small pieces and put in lukewarm water. Allow 10 to 15 minutes before soaking your feet or affected area. Relax and soak for an hour. Do this once or twice daily until itching, redness and skin flaking are gone.
To prepare garlic oil, mince or grind 1 medium garlic and add a teaspoon of olive oil. Clean the affected area before liberally applying garlic oil. Leave for 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat 3 times daily.
To prepare as a snack, cut 1 large garlic into thin slices and fry using olive oil for about 5 to 10 minutes. You can add these garlic chips in meals, salads, or soups.
4. Lavender oil
Lavender oil is rich with a potent substance called alpha-pinene, which provides antifungal and antibacterial properties. When used in low concentration, lavender oil effectively minimizes infection and kills various type of fungus. Although effective when used alone, lavender oil can be mixed with other antifungal oils such as tee tree and jojoba to get maximum results.
To make foot soak, put 10 cups of warm water in a bucket or tub and add 10 to 15 drops of lavender and jojoba oil. Soak your feet for about an hour. Do this 3 times a week. When symptoms disappear, lessen to once a week soaking.
To prepare combination oil, mix 10 drops of lavender oil with 5 drops of jojoba and olive oil. Mix thoroughly before applying on the affected area. Leave for 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat 3 times a day. Make sure that the skin between the toes is also treated.
5. Baking Soda
Baking Soda is rich in alkaline, a substance that prevents fungal infection. Baking soda is cheap and can be directly used as a foot powder.
To use as a foot bath, mix 3 tablespoons of baking powder with 3 cups warm water. Clean feet with soap and dry. You can either soak the affected area or damp a soft cloth and wipe. Repeat 2 times daily preferably after a hot bath.
6. Epsom salt
Severe cases of athlete’s foot often cause skin sores and extreme drying/flaking. Although plain salt is effective, using special Epson salt will increase antifungal effects. Epsom salt is packed with high levels of magnesium and sulfate, which effectively minimize inflammation, infection, and remove body toxins. Furthermore, Epsom salt has been proven to be absorbed faster by the skin compared to ordinary salt.
Mix 2 to 3 teaspoons of Epsom salt with a bucket of warm water. Soak the affected area for about an hour. Repeat 2 to 3 times daily preferably after a shower. For added antifungal powder, you can add 3 teaspoons of baking soda in the soak. When symptoms disappear, do this treatment just once a day.
7. Daily Intake of Vitamin C
Vitamin c strengthens the immune system from various diseases and medical conditions such as athlete’s foot. In addition, vitamin c minimizes the risk of fungal infection. Daily intake of vitamin c tablets and supplements up to 1000 mg is recommended. Consumption of fruits rich in ascorbic acid, such as lemon, orange, and pineapple are also advised.
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