Athlete’s foot or foot fungus (Tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that usually originates and develops between the toes.
This condition should not be confused with onychomycosis, which occurs when the fungus infects, but is limited to the toenails.
In athlete’s foot, it is characterized by a reddish, scaly rash, which usually begins between the toes. In some cases, blisters or ulcers can even be seen.
This infection can affect only one foot, both, and also spread to the hand, especially if you scratch, as it is contagious. It is usually transmitted by contaminated floors, clothing, towels or surfaces.
Normally, it occurs from wearing tight or damp shoes or socks for a long time (especially in hot and humid seasons).
- How to get rid of toenail fungus
Although there are over-the-counter antifungal creams to help control athlete’s foot, you can use home remedies and hygiene care to prevent it. Let’s review them in detail:
Garlic or onion
Garlic (Allium sativum) and onion (Allium cepa) belong to the genus Allium. In addition to sharing a characteristic aroma and flavor, they have medicinal properties in common.
Garlic carries a long medicinal betrayal, to the point that people originally used it as a remedy and not as food.
Different investigations focused on studying the effects of one of its compounds, ajoene, which gives it its particular smell and taste.
Ajoen is attributed antifungal properties, there is even evidence to support its positive effects against athlete’s foot.
To use it, you just have to crush 3 to 4 garlic cloves and mix them in a container with 1 ½ to 2 liters of water.
Soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes in this solution up to 2 times a day.
After a week, experts say that you will begin to see progress. Caution– Garlic smell can be long-lasting and difficult to remove.
The onion has allicin and alliin, compounds responsible for its antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Similar to a garlic foot bath, you can process an onion to obtain its juice. Soak in cotton to apply to the damaged area. This procedure should be done with clean feet.
After letting the onion juice act for a few minutes, you should remove it with warm water, dry it well, and then put some talcum powder to prevent moisture.
Essential oils are concentrates of plant raw material, that is, trees, flowers, leaves, plants or roots. They stand out for their intense aroma, volatility, lightness, and for their use for medicinal purposes.
To treat athlete’s foot, two of them stand out: tea tree essential oil and Neem essential oil.
Tea tree oil is obtained by steam distilling the leaves and branches of the tea tree, a shrub in the Myrtaceae family called Melaleuca alternifolia.
- What You Should Know About Yeast Infections
The available scientific evidence shows that solutions with proportions of 25 to 50% of tea tree, were significantly more effective in alleviating athlete’s foot than placebos, reducing inflammation, scaling and burning.
Caution– If you decide to use tea tree essential oil, you will need to dilute it before applying it. Placing it directly on the skin can cause a rash and irritation.
To avoid taking risks, mix a couple of drops in a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut, and then apply with a cotton ball on the affected area. Another option is to buy creams or lotions that already contain a diluted dose of tea tree oil.
Unlike tea tree essential oil, Neem oil can be applied directly to the affected area up to twice a day. Its antifungal potential can decrease many of the symptoms of athlete’s foot. However, consult a health professional before resorting to this option.
Salt and vinegar baths
Sea salt is obtained from the evaporation of sea water. It is not normally processed, and that allows it to retain very small amounts of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
It is linked to strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, capable of preventing or stopping the spread of athlete’s foot.
A good way to take advantage of it is through foot baths, preparing it in a solution together with another powerful natural antifungal: vinegar. Although this is a recognized dressing, it has acetic acid, a compound with great antiseptic and fungicidal power.
Try mixing half a tablespoon of sea salt and half a cup of vinegar for every cup of warm water. Combine the ingredients well and soak the feet for 20 to 25 minutes. Repeat this treatment about 2 times a day, for 2 weeks.
Sodium bicarbonate, also called sodium bicarbonate, sodium acid carbonate, or baking soda, is a white crystalline compound with a slightly bitter and salty taste.
It is not only an effective option to hinder the development of athlete’s foot, according to different studies, but also an input that most people have at home.
You can soak the affected foot in a solution of half a cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water. Let it sit for around 20 minutes and then remove and dry well. Repeat this procedure up to two times a day.
How to prevent athlete’s foot
Take into account the following precautions to avoid having to deal with athlete’s foot:
- Change your socks regularly: there is no universal number, every time you feel that your feet are very sweaty you should change your socks.
- Take care of your foot: use talc daily, preferably antifungal.
- Don’t share the shoes: This exchange can favor the spread of the fungal infection.
- Dry feet: It is important to keep them free of moisture, especially between the fingers, as this favors the growth of harmful microorganisms. Drying off well after showering and being barefoot can help air out your feet while you’re at home.
- Protect your feet in public places– Wear sandals or water shoes when in public pools, showers, and changing rooms.
- Rotate shoes: do not wear the same pair of shoes every day, this will help them to dry properly and not promote moisture on your feet.
- Wear light and airy shoesIf possible, avoid wearing shoes made with synthetic materials, such as vinyl or rubber.
Athlete’s foot or foot fungus is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes.
It usually occurs in people whose feet sweat excessively or wear closed shoes and tight socks. Symptoms include a scaly rash that is often itchy and burning.
Although there are antifungal creams, you can opt for natural solutions and home remedies to avoid this infection or stop its spread.
The most popular include foot baths with garlic, onion, vinegar, essential oils (especially tea tree or Neem), baking soda, or sea salt.
You can prevent its appearance by using powder and ventilated or light shoes, changing your shoes or socks when your feet sweat a lot or avoiding sharing them with other people.
Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.