How To Treat Athlete's Foot

Everyday Illnesses Common Remedies
Treatments For Itchy Feet

What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Also called tinea pedis, athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that attacks the feet. It causes cracked, sore and itchy skin between the toes; sometimes the skin is white and soggy. The condition is caused by several different types of fungi which thrive in warm and moist conditions. It commonly affects people who sweat a lot (like teenagers and those playing sports) and those who wear enclosed footwear. Most cases of athlete's foot are mild and can be treated with over the counter and home remedies. Note: People who have athlete’s foot are more prone to ringworm, another fungal infection that causes circular rashes on the scalp or groin (it has nothing to do with actual worms!).


1. Antifungal Medicine
You can buy medicines that kills the fungus infection. These are readily available in all drug stores and come in the form of creams, sprays, powers and liquids. Most preparations need to be applied at least once a day. It is important that you continue to apply the treatment for a few days, even if the symptoms have cleared up. This will help ensure the infection is completely gone. If an over the counter treatment does not work, talk to your doctor. You may need a stronger prescription antifungal drug, this is usually in pill form - Sporanox, Diflucan or Lamisil.

2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a strong antiseptic. Mix a 4 drops into a teaspoon of olive oil and rub the mixture to the affected skin twice a day. Alternatively you can use lavender oil which has natural antifungal properties.

3. Calendula Ointment
Calendula is a substance made from the flower of the marigold plant. It has been used for centuries to treat common skin problems such as cuts, burns, infections and irritations. It is thought to have antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Rub calendula ointment (available in most drug stores) to the affected areas until symptoms disappear.

4. Urine
You may not want to do this one! Soak a cloth or cotton ball in fresh urine and rub your toes and feet with it. Urine is antiseptic and has antifungal properties. Alternatively pee on your feet when you take a shower (Madonna apparently does all the time).

5. Salt Water Footbath
Add 2 tablespoons of sea salt per pint of warm water to make a footbath. Soak your feet for 10 minutes. Repeat every second day until your feet are healed.

6. Tea Footbath
Steep 5 tea bags in a liter of boiling water and leave to cool until it is lukewarm. Soak your feet in this bath for 15 minutes. Tea contains tannic acid which is a natural astringent that helps to dry out sweaty feet.

7. Citricidal Liquid
Citricidal liquid is made from grape seed extract. It is known to have strong antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic and antimicrobial properties. It can be used externally for athlete’s foot and other minor skin irritations (including dandruff when rubbed to the scalp). It can also be swallowed to help heal digestive problems and fight colds and flus.

8. Additional Remedies
People who suffer from athlete’s foot have created their own cures and swear by them. Apply any one of these 3 times a day:
• Garlic powder
• Apple cider vinegar
• Raw honey
• Surgical spirit

Self Care

1. Wash your feet regularly with soap and water and dry thoroughly.
2. Wash your towels regularly and do not share with others to prevent spreading the infection.
3. Wear clean cotton socks and change everyday. Some sports stores sell socks made from bamboo which has antibacterial properties.
4. Eat lots of garlic and ginger as they have antifungal properties.
5. Persistent athlete’s foot is often associated with the overgrowth of Candida in the intestines. For this reason you should avoid sugary foods when you have symptoms. Additionally avoid yeasty foods like wine and yeasty bread. Also avoid moldy foods like cheese, mushrooms, peanuts and grapes (grapes are high in sugar and have mould on their skin). For more, see our Candida diet.
6. Avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body. Wash your hands with soap and water after touching your feet. Be careful not to touch your groin area, it can easily spread to this area creating 'jock itch'. Put your socks on first before your underwear. If you wear pantyhose, still put socks on before your underwear, then remove the socks and step into the pantyhose.
7. Don't wear the same pair of shoes 2 days in a row. Allow them to dry out. If you sweat alot, change your shoes twice a day. Dust the insides of your shoes with an antifungal spray or powder to kill fungus spores. Alternatively spray some disinfectant on a cloth and wipe the insides of your shoes after you take them off.

• Other health issues? See: How to treat common illnesses.

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