What causes it?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the foot caused by parasites on the skin called dermatophytes. They are called parasites as they live off other organisms in order to survive.
Dermatophytes can be divided into three groups according to their favourite hosts:
- fungi preferring soil (geophile)
- fungi preferring animals (zoophile)
- and fungi preferring humans (anthropophile).
Athlete’s foot is usually caused by anthropophile fungi. The most common species are Microsporum, Epidermophyton and Trichophyton. These account for 90 per cent of all skin fungal infections, commonly referred to as ringworm (tinea corporis).
The medical terms for athlete’s foot are tinea pedis or dermatophytosis palmaris, plantaris and interdigitalis – the latter indicates that, in addition to the soles and toes of the feet, the palms of the hands can also become infected.
We all have one or more of the fungi that can cause athlete’s foot on our bodies. They feed on dead skin cells and are usually harmless.
Athlete’s foot is a common condition in young people and adults. The fungi love warm, moist places with the result they are primarily a problem for people who wear tight-fitting trainers or don’t dry their feet properly.
The condition is contagious. It can be spread by direct skin-to-skin contact and indirectly through towels, shoes, floors, etc.
What are the symptoms?
There are two variants of the condition.
The infection is caused by one of the most common fungi.
- A red itchy rash in the spaces between the toes (often between the 4th and 5th toes initially) and possibly small pustules.
- Often a small degree of scaling.
- The infection can spread to the rest of the foot and other parts of the body.
Infection of the soles of both feet by Trichophyton rubrum.
- The skin reddens and its furrows become marked, resembling chalked lines.
- If the condition is not treated, a similar rash may appear on one or both palms.
- After a while, the rash becomes scaly, resembling eczema.
Who is at increased risk?
- Young people, especially if they wear trainers.
- People who are forced to wear tight-fitting rubber footwear because of their job.
What can be done at home?
- Wash the feet every day and allow them to dry properly before putting on shoes and socks. You should use a separate towel to dry your feet. To avoid passing the infection on you should not share these towels with anyone else.
- Wear socks made of cotton or wool, and change them at least twice a day or when they have become damp.
- Avoid wearing shoes which are made of synthetic materials. Wear sandals or leather shoes instead.
- Powder the feet and the inside of the shoes with an antifungal powder.
How is it diagnosed?
- The diagnosis can usually be made on the basis of the appearance of the foot.
- The doctor may take a scrape for microscopy and culture.
- The condition can sometimes disappear simply through being exposed to fresh air, but medical treatment is usually required.
- An infection of the foot may be accompanied by an infection of the nails.
How is athlete’s foot treated?
- Athlete’s foot can be treated locally with antifungal creams, sprays, liquids and powders that are available from pharmacists without a prescription. Imidazole antifungals are most effective and include clotrimazole (eg Canesten AF) and miconazole (eg Daktarin). Other antifungals include zinc undecenoate (Mycota), terbinafine (Lamisil AT) and tolnaftate (Mycil).
- Treatment should be continued for two weeks after the symptoms have disappeared to ensure the infection has been treated effectively.
- Some antifungal creams also contain hydrocortisone, eg Daktacort HC. These are useful when the skin is particularly red and inflamed, as the hydrocortisone reduces inflammation and irritation. They should not be used for longer than seven days. They are not suitable for children under 10 or during pregnancy and breastfeeding, unless prescribed by a doctor. After seven days, treatment should be continued with a plain antifungal.
- If the athlete’s foot has not started to respond after two weeks’ antifungal treatment you should see your doctor, who may prescribe a stronger antifungal cream or antifungal tablets.
Getting athletes foot is easy
Getting athletes foot is easy because this type of skin infection is highly contagious.
You can acquire the fungus that causes it in places such as health clubs, indoor swimming pools, fitness gyms, and shower and locker rooms.
Getting it is also highly possible if you put on the socks, shoes and slippers of a person suffering from this nasty and smelly fungal infection.
Otherwise known as tinea pedis or ringworm of the foot, athletes foot shows up as white and scaly patches on areas such as the top of the feet, spaces between the toes and even on toenails.
It causes your feet to be always sweaty and smelling terrible. Symptoms include itchiness as well as burning and stinging sensation.
Knowing how this fungal infection goes from person to person makes it easier for you to protect yourself against it. In case you get infected, fret not.
Below are some all-natural and highly effective athletes foot remedies.
1. Before bedtime
Place crushed garlic cloves between your toes and put on socks. Let this cheap and effective antifungal solution work overnight.
Its also possible for you to consume lots of garlic or take garlic capsules.
2. Keep it dry
Keeping the affected areas always dry is important to prevent the worsening of the infection as well as to keep bad odor at bay.
Prior to putting on your socks, sprinkle some baking soda or corn starch on your feet.
3. Tea Tree Oil
For 10 minutes, soak your feet in a foot bath with 40 drops of tea tree oil.
This essential oil has antifungal properties, killing the root cause of your skin infection.
4. Himalayan crystal salt
If tea tree oil is not available, add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of Himalayan crystal salt to your foot bath.
The acidic environment of the resulting mixture is something that the fungus cannot thrive in.
5. Plain yogurt
Plain yogurt contains acidophilus bacteria, which checks the fungus. Simply apply the plain yogurt on the contaminated area and rinse off, when it gets dry.
6. Oregano tea
Adding oregano tea to your foot bath is another tried-and-tested effective solution.
Its a good idea to soak your feet in the mixture for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times daily until the fungal infection has noticeably subsided.
7. Corn starch
Take some corn starch and apply on the affected foot with the help of cotton. Wash after fifteen minutes to get rid of athlete’s foot.
Ginger is an herb known to posses impressive antifungal properties. Chop ginger and add it to a cup of boiling water.
Allow it to simmer for 20 minutes, let cool to room temperature, and apply twice a day with a cotton ball.
Add one tablespoon of grapefruit extract in one gallon of warm water, and soak your foot in it for 15-20 minutes.
10. Ozonated olive oil
Ozonated olive oil may be applied on clean and dry feet to kill off the fungi in just less than a week.
Antioxidants in olive oil help promote healing of the skin so you can be free of anything that can remind you of that fungal nightmare.
Take a lemon and extract its juice.
Add 2 ounces of water to it. Wash your feet with this lemon water. It will remove sweaty odour from your foot while giving relief in Athlete’s foot.
12. Sesame oil
In case you cannot get your hands on ozonated olive oil, use sesame oil or virgin coconut oil instead.
13. Neem oil
Another type of oil that can do wonders to your fungal infection is neem oil.
14. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal Silver is another common remedy for athlete’s foot with known antifungal properties. Spray or apply to your feet and let it fully dry. Alternatively, you can spray and leave the silver on your feet overnight.
There are a lot of hucksters peddling shoddy colloidal silver. Only buy a high-quality product from a reputable company.
I recommend Global Healing Center’s Silver Fuzion.
Produced with 20,000 volts of high voltage AC technology to ensure small particle size and maximum absorption, and composed of 99.999% pure submicroscopic silver particles electrically suspended in a triple distilled water base, Silver Fuzion is the safest colloidal silver product on the market today.
15. Cinnamon sticks
Take 8-10 broken cinnamon sticks and boil them in 4 cups of water.
Simmer it for 4-5 minutes. Then, steep it for next 40-45 minutes. Immerse your feet in this water for at least ½ hour. Practise it daily until you get complete relief.