Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that you can get saddled with some point in your life. The fungus usually develops between the toes and can spread to your toenails and the soles and sides of your feet.
The fungus attacks the feet because of the warm, dark and humid environment created by shoes that encourages its growth. The term, athlete’s foot, probably was coined because this skin disease was common in athletes using warm and damp showers and locker rooms. However, not all fungal infections of the foot are athlete’s foot. (1)
Athlete’s foot is not confined to the feet, it can also occur on palms and fingers. It can spread to other parts of the body too, such as groin, underarms and other places, if you scratch the infection and touch these places. Even contaminated bed sheets or clothing can spread the infection to other parts of the body (1). Just see the picture(s) below to see how this condition looks like.
Athlete’s foot is primarily an adult’s disease, but cases in children have also been reported. When you get this infection, the first thing you experience is drying up of the skin, accompanied by itching and scaling. If left unattended, it can take the form of inflammation and blisters.
Blisters can often cause cracking of the skin, resulting in small raw areas of tissue that cause pain and swelling. The severity of itching and burning is usually directly proportional to the spread of the infection. The fungus causing athlete’s foot may persist for long periods.
Although, athletes foot responds well to over-the-counter treatments, but you just can’t be sure what allergies and other skin reactions these medicines may cause. So, the best alternative is to go in for natural cures and remedies. Let’s see what they are (2):
a. Tea Tree Essential Oil:
This is an effective remedy for skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections, since it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Best results are obtained by applying a few drops of tea tree oil on the affected area, at least, four times a day. To eradicate this infection completely, continue the treatment for another 2 to 4 weeks, even if you find the problem clearing up (3).
Tea is another effective treatment. In a quart of boiling water add six tea bags and soak your feet in it for 30 to 60 minutes. Of course, wait for it to become comfortably warm, you wouldn’t want to end up with scalded feet! Tannic acid in tea kills the fungus and soothes the pain and itchy condition.
c. Salt water:
Dissolve salt in warm water and soak your feet in it for 10 minutes. Doing so regularly will improve the condition. However, salt water can be painful if the skin is cracked.
d. Natural apple cider vinegar:
This is an effective remedy for athlete’s foot. Simply pour it on the infected skin and allow the vinegar to dry. Afterwards, rinse the skin with water and dry it thoroughly. Repeated use will get rid of athlete’s foot.
e. Baking soda:
Dusting baking soda on your feet and between your toes after shower helps dry the area and removes dampness from the skin. Powder the area with baking soda daily, until the infection is gone and continue it for at least a month afterwards.
The good bacteria in yogurt are helpful in clearing athlete’s foot. Use yogurt or supplements till 2 weeks after the symptoms are gone. Best would be to make yogurt a part of your daily diet.
Athlete’s foot can become painful and itchy, if it’s allowed to spread. So, always get yourself checked before you start any home remedy, since other conditions, such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema and even psoriasis, may mimic athlete’s foot.