Contrary to its name, you don’t need to be an athlete to contract athlete’s foot. While it got its name because it flourishes in moist areas frequented by athletes, such as locker rooms and public showers, anyone can get athlete’s foot by being exposed to it. A common fungal skin infection that often starts between the toes, athlete’s foot is contagious and results in a scaly rash that causes itching, stinging and burning. To prevent and cure this ailment, we’ve rounded up 7 effective remedies for athlete’s foot.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection that affects the sole of the foot and the skin between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet become sweaty from being confined in tight-fitting shoes or develops due to direct exposure to the infection from places like pools and public showers. It’s characterized by scaling or blistering and itchiness on the soles of your feet and between the toes. You may also notice cracking, peeling, dry and raw skin, as well as toenails that pull away from the nail bed.
10 Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
1. Patches or fissures (deep breaks or slits), especially between the toes
2. Blisters that itch
3. Cracking and peeling skin, mostly on your soles and between your toes
4. Red, itchy skin
5. Small blisters that spread out across the foot
6. Stinging and burning
7. Dry, raw skin
8. Discoloured, thick and crumbly toenails
9. Toenails that pull away from the nail bed
10. The mocassin variety of athlete’s foot causes chronic dryness and scaling on the soles that extends up the side of the foot
5 Causes of Athlete’s Foot
1. Damp socks and shoes
2. Thick, tight shoes
3. Warm, humid conditions like shared showers and swimming pools
4. Contact with an infected person
5. Contact with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, floors and shoes
4 Tips to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
1. Keep Your Feet Dry and Clean
Fungus grows in dark, moist areas, which makes your feet an ideal place for tinea pedis to develop. If you want to prevent athlete’s foot, keeping your feet as dry and clean as possible is key. Clean your feet as soon as you’re done working out and make sure to dry the space between your toes.
2. Don’t Walk Around Barefoot In Public
In public spaces such as swimming pools, showers and change rooms, make sure to wear flip flops rather than walk around in bare feet. Athlete’s foot is very contagious, so if someone who has it walks somewhere with bare feet and then you do, you may end up contracting it.
3. Wear Shoes with Ventilation
Tight, non-breathable shoes can create an ideal environment for athlete’s foot. Make sure to wear shoes that aren’t too tight and have good ventilation. Avoid rubber or plastic footwear unless they have ventilation openings. You should also alternate your shoes daily or make sure they dry before you put them on again, and make sure to remove your shoes immediately after exercising.
4. Sock Smarts
Wear clean, dry socks everyday, and if your feet get sweaty throughout the day, change into a clean pair. Always change out of your sweaty socks after a workout. Wear cotton socks or socks made from materials that help wick away moisture.
7 Remedies for Athlete’s Foot
1. Over-the-Counter Treatments
Most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter powders, creams or sprays. These include miconazole (Desenex), tolnaftate (Tinactin), clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra), and terbinafine (Lamisil AT). Make sure to follow the instructions on the label and avoid touching the affected part of your foot as much as possible.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can kill the bacteria on the surface of the foot, as well as any surface bacteria that could cause an infection. Soak your feet in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water and be aware that it may sting, especially if you have cracked skin or open wounds. You can also apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the affected area with a cotton swab.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda has been found to have anti-fungal abilities when used on the skin. Mix half a cup of baking soda in a basin of warm water and soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. When done, dry your feet thoroughly, but make sure not to rinse them. For the affected areas between your toes, try a baking soda paste. Add a little bit of lukewarm water to one tablespoon of baking soda and rub the paste on the fungus. Rinse and dry thoroughly, and finish the treatment by dusting on cornstarch or powder.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and applying it daily can treat both the symptoms of athlete’s foot and the fungus that causes it within a few weeks. Mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil for a concentration of 25 to 50 percent tea tree oil. Apply it to the affected area two times per day.
5. Neem Oil
Neem oil has amazing anti-fungal capabilities that can help treat athlete’s foot. You can apply it directly to the affected area two to three times a day, massaging it into the skin. You can also use it to treat infections that occur under the toenails.
6. Garlic Soak
Garlic can be effective for treating athlete’s foot. It has a long history of medicinal use and has been found to be powerful against some fungi and bacteria. Crush three to four cloves of garlic and stir them into a basin of warm water. Soak your feet for 30 minutes twice a day for up to a week.
7. Sea Salt Bath
With strong antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, sea salt can help treat athlete’s foot and may inhibit the growth or spread of the fungus as well. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can’t survive in saline (salty) solutions and salt also eliminates perspiration. Dissolve a cup of sea salt in a warm foot bath and soak your feet for 20 minutes. Make sure to dry them thoroughly when you’re done.
Athlete’s foot can be a serious downer, but with these remedies you’ll be feeling better in no time.