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.
Athlete’s foot is characterized by a red, scaly rash that usually begins between the toes. In some cases, blisters or ulcers can even be seen.
This infection can affect just one foot, both, and also spread to the hand, especially if you scratch it, as it is contagious. It is usually transmitted by floors, clothing, towels or contaminated surfaces.
It usually occurs from wearing tight or wet shoes or socks for a long time (especially in hot and humid seasons).
Although there are over-the-counter antifungal creams to help control athlete’s foot, you can use home remedies and hygienic care to prevent it.
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 has a long medicinal betrayal, to the point that people used it initially 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.
Ajoene is attributed antifungal properties, there is even evidence to support its positive effects against athlete’s foot.
To use it, you only have to crush 3 to 4 cloves of garlic 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.
- How to get rid of toenail fungus
After a week, experts say that you will begin to see progress. Caution: Garlic odor can be long lasting and difficult to remove.
The onion has allicin and alliin, compounds responsible for its antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Similar to the garlic foot bath, you can process an onion to get its juice. Soak in cotton to apply on the damaged area. This procedure must be performed with clean feet.
After letting the onion juice act for a few minutes, you should remove it with warm water, dry well and then apply 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 distillation of the leaves and branches of the tea tree, a shrub in the tea tree family. Myrtaceae called Melaleuca alternifolia.
The available scientific evidence shows that solutions with proportions of 25 to 50% of tea tree were significantly more effective in relieving 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 rashes and irritation.
To be safe, mix a couple of drops in a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil, 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 lessen many of the symptoms of athlete’s foot. However, consult with 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 contains acetic acid, a compound with great antiseptic and fungicidal power.
Try mixing a half tablespoon of sea salt and a half cup of vinegar for every cup of warm water. Combine the ingredients well and soak your feet for 20 to 25 minutes. Repeat this treatment about 2 times a day for 2 weeks.
Sodium bicarbonate, also called sodium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate of soda or bicarbonate of 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 item that most people have in their homes.
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 about 20 minutes and then remove and dry well. Repeat this procedure up to twice a day.
How to prevent athlete’s foot
Keep in mind the following precautions so you don’t have 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 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 yourself off after a shower and going 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 locker rooms.
- rotate the shoes: do not wear the same pair of shoes every day, this will help them dry properly and do not favor moisture on your feet.
- Wear light and ventilated shoes: If possible, avoid wearing shoes made of synthetic materials, such as vinyl or rubber.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, but first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.