Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tightfitting shoes.
If untreated, athlete’s foot can result in a bacterial infection if skin is broken. This can happen due to scratching or when blisters pop or ulcers become infected. Any type of infection can be very serious and requires prompt treatment.
Athlete’s foot is also very contagious. It can easily spread to your hands, especially if you’re scratching at the affected area. This fungus can also infect the area under your nails, which can be more difficult to treat, or the groin area.
You may see the rash spread along your heel and up the side of your foot as well. Symptoms: At first, your feet may just feel sore, dry, or slightly itchy. After a while, the skin thickens, cracks, or peels. If the infection advances to your nails, your toenails may also get thick and crumbly.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot? The majority of athlete’s foot cases are caused by a variety of fungi all belonging to a group called dermatophytes, which also causes jock itch and ringworm. The fungi thrive in closed, warm, moist environments and feed on keratin, a protein found in hair, nails, and skin.
Home Remedies for Athlete’s Foot
1 Baking Soda
This one isn’t directly for your feet, but rather for your shoes. Baking soda is an old fashioned remedy for fungus and bacteria. After you wear your shoes, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the insides. This is an especially good idea if you have athletes foot and wear the same shoes frequently.
2. Vicks VapoRub
Not only can Vicks VapoRub reduce symptoms from a bad cough, it can help treat athlete’s foot. This may be because of its use of eucalyptus oil and menthol, both of which have antifungal properties
Rub Vicks on the affected area every night, massaging it into the foot. Do this every night for at least a month, or up until a week after the infection has disappeared.
3. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which is part of the reason it’s commonly used to treat many fungal infections (including both ringworm and candidiasis).
Applying tea tree oil daily could treat both the symptoms of athlete’s foot and the fungus that causes it within a few weeks.
To treat athlete’s foot, mix a carrier oil like warm coconut oil with tea tree oil for a concentration of 25 to 50 percent tea tree oil. Apply it to the affected area two times a day.
4. Neem oil
Both neem oil and neem leaf extracts have incredible antifungal capabilities that can help fight athlete’s foot.
You can apply the neem oil (or extract) directly to the affected area two to three times a day, massaging it into the skin. This can also be helpful for treating infections that develop under the toenails.
Garlic may have a strong scent, but it can be an effective topical treatment for athlete’s foot. One older study even found that a derivative of garlic, alone, resulted in a complete cure in 79 percent of participants after just 7 days.
To use garlic to treat athlete’s foot, crush four to five cloves of garlic. Once smashed, rub them over the affected area. Do this twice daily.
6. Rubbing alcohol
Much like hydrogen peroxide, many families will have rubbing alcohol on hand to clean cuts. Like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol can help kill off the fungus that’s on the surface level of the skin.
You can apply it directly to the affected area or soak your feet in a footbath of 70 percent rubbing alcohol and 30 percent water for 30 minutes.
7. Sea salt baths
Sea salt has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a great natural treatment for athlete’s foot and any complications it could cause. It may actually inhibit the growth and spread of athlete’s foot.
Some treatments involve mixing sea salt with other natural treatments, like vinegar, to make a sort of paste.
The most effective way to use this treatment may be to dissolve a cup of sea salt into a warm foot bath. Soak your feet for at least 20 minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly when you’re finished soaking.
8. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can effectively kill the fungus on the surface level of the foot, as well as any surface bacteria that could cause an infection.
Pour hydrogen peroxide directly onto the affected area. Note that it may sting, and it should bubble, especially if you have open wounds. Do this twice daily until the infection subsides.
9. Talcum powder
Talcum powder, corn starch, or baby powder work to treat athlete’s foot by keeping the affected area dry and clean. This makes it difficult for the fungus to thrive and spread by keeping sweat and moisture under control.
To use this treatment, apply talcum powder (or antifungal powder) directly to the dried, affected area every time before putting on socks. Be careful not to inhale talcum powder.