Tinea pedis or athlete’s foot is a type of fungal infection. Usually, this starts between a person’s toes. This infection usually happens in people who have sweaty and dirty feet. When feet become sweaty and are housed in tight-fitting shoes, the likelihood of the infection increases.
Some common symptoms of athlete’s foot include a rash that feels scaly. The rash gives a person an itchy, burning or stinging sensation. This infection is highly contagious. It can spread through fabrics, clothing, and floors which have been contaminated.
Athlete’s foot is quite similar to other fungal infections like jock itch and ringworm. A person can treat it with over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments. But, this infection can also recur, especially if the person doesn’t change his foot-care habits. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe stronger medications to treat the infection.
When a person has athlete’s foot, the scaly rash usually starts between the toes. And when the person removes his socks and shoes, the itching sensation worsens. In more severe cases of athlete’s foot, a person might even have ulcers or blisters. Other varieties of this infection may even cause chronic scaling and dryness. It might even spread up towards the sides of the feet.
If left unchecked or untreated, the infection can spread to both feet and even to a person’s hand. If the person keeps scratching or picking at the infected areas, it spreads even faster.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Just like similar fungal infections, a certain kind of fungus causes Athlete’s foot. This condition is common with people who live in warm, humid climates. Here are some of the common risk factors for Athlete’s foot:
- It’s more likely to occur in men.
- It’s more likely to occur in people who have sweaty feet and wear tight-fitting shoes.
- Since it’s highly contagious, it can spread through contaminated items around the house.
- It can also infect people who walk barefoot in public places.
When a person gets infected with athlete’s foot, complications may arise. This is especially true if the person doesn’t treat the infection. If not treated, the infection can extend to other parts of the body such as:
- A person’s hand. If the person keeps touching the infection, it can easily spread to the hand.
- A person’s nails. If left unchecked, the infection can spread to the toenails. This can be dangerous because then the infection becomes more difficult to treat.
- A person’s groin. The fungus which causes athlete’s foot is the same one which causes jock itch.So if not treated, the infection can spread to the groin through contaminated items such as a towel.
Fortunately, there are many ways to treat athlete’s foot. A person can buy anti-fungal medications at his local drugstore. Otherwise, there are also ways to treat this infection using homemade remedies. Here are some suggestions:
Apple cider vinegar concoctions. Apple cider vinegar has been used for medicinal purposes even in the past. This common household ingredient has long been valued for its medicinal characteristics. This kind of vinegar is especially useful against fungus and yeast. Because of this, a lot of people take in orally to prevent candida from causing infection. If you’ve already developed athlete’s foot, you can make some concoctions to treat it.
First, you can mix half a cup of organic apple cider vinegar with about 2 tablespoons of Himalayan crystal salt. Add some warm water to the mixture and soak your feet in it for about 20-30 minutes. This is effective because the vinegar creates a highly acidic environment. In this kind of environment, the fungus cannot live. So if you soak your feet in the solution, it can kill the fungus.
If you don’t want to soak your feet in the solution, you can also wipe them down with a soaked cloth. Either that or spray them with the solution after taking a shower. Just make sure that you dry your feet completely after. This solution works well on mild cases of athlete’s foot.
Essential oils. Aside from apple cider vinegar, different essential oils can also be used to help treat this fungal infection. The best essential oils to use are:
- Olive oil (ozonated). Go for the ozonated kind of olive oil to help athlete’s foot. Ozone is an effective anti-fungal agent. It’s great for healing damaged or infected skin. Apply the oil to the feet in the morning and at night. Again, make sure the feet are dry and clean. If applied regularly, the fungus should disappear in 2-4 days. It’s also effective at preventing recurrence of athlete’s foot.
- Oregano oil. This oil can help protect the skin from harmful organisms. To get the effect of the oil, make a tea from oregano leaves. Mix the leaves with water and soak the feet in the mixture. Do this 2-3 times each day until the infection disappears. Although some people say that the tea is reusable for up to a week, it’s better to whip up a fresh batch every day.
- Organic neem oil. This oil is sometimes used in pesticides. It’s an organic essential oil which is poisonous to harmful organisms such as fungi. Apply this on the feet using a cotton ball. Make sure the feet are dry and clean.
- Sesame oil and coconut oil. Both these oils have excellent anti-fungal characteristics. Apply either of these oils to the feet using a swab or a cotton ball. Do this 2 times a day on dry and clean feet.
- Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has characteristics which will aid in the destruction of fungus in athlete’s foot. It will also prevent the infection from spreading. Prepare a foot bath and add some drops of tea tree oil. Mix well then soak the feet for 10-15 minutes. After the soak, dry the feet completely. Then, apply the oil directly to the infected area.
Probiotic remedies. A person’s gut health has an impact on the different parts of overall health. That’s why it’s important to increase the intake of probiotics. It’s also important to stay away from foods which are too starchy or sugary.
If a person suffers from chronic athlete’s foot, it may be an indication of an underlying gut problem. A person’s immune system is in charge of defending the body against infections. Fungal infections, in particular, can be a sign of an imbalance in the body, especially in the gut.
Candida is a kind of fungal yeast which is often the cause of fungal infections. This fungus naturally occurs in the guts. But it can grow or spread to other parts of the body, such as the feet. When this happens, it means that the body doesn’t have enough probiotics or the beneficial bacteria. So, people who are suffering from athlete’s foot or any infection, it’s helpful to ramp up the probiotic intake.
It’s also possible to create a topical probiotic remedy for athlete’s foot. To do this, mix 2 tablespoons of full-fat, organic yogurt (the plain variety) with 2 capsules of Saccharomycesboulardii. Mix these components then apply it to the areas infected with athlete’s foot. Leave the mixture for 20-30 minutes then rinse off. After that, dry the feet completely.
Whip up some anti-fungal mixture at home. Finally, you can also combine some of the items discussed to make an effective anti-fungal mixture. Although it’s more common to purchase an over-the-counter ointment to treat athlete’s foot, you can also choose a more natural solution. Usually, homemade mixtures can be made using powerful essential oils.
Research shows that certain plants have anti-fungal characteristics. Therefore these plants can be used to treat infections and illnesses effectively. These natural ingredients also don’t come with the side effects which are common with prescription medication. A lot of these natural anti-fungal remedies have been around for centuries. They’re still being used today because they are proven to be effective.
To make an effective anti-fungal mixture, use oregano oil and tea tree oil as the main ingredients. For best results, mix 2 drops of tea tree oil with 3 drops of oregano oil. Also, mix in a drop or two of coconut oil. Place the mixture in a glass container to keep it pure. Stir the mixture well using a clean spoon. Then, apply the mixture directly to the infected areas. Do this 3-4 times each day.
Stay Healthy to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
The main reason why the body develops infections like athlete’s foot is that it has a weak immune system. This directly corresponds to a high risk of infections as well as other diseases. A person’s immune system weakens when:
- The person has an unhealthy diet and an inactive lifestyle.
- The person is frequently stressed.
- The person has unhealthy habits such as excessive alcohol intake, drug use, and smoking.
- The person has a pre-existing health condition such as diabetes or other autoimmune disorders.
- The person takes hormone replacement drugs or antibiotics frequently.
All these factors contribute to a weak immune system, which then leads to more problems. Fortunately, it’s also quite easy to keep this system of the body healthy. Here are some tips:
- Eating more foods with probiotics helps the immune system. These include yogurt, cultured vegetables, and other such foods. Including probiotics in the diet helps maintain a goodamount of good bacteria in the body. This is important for a healthy immune system.
- It’s also very helpful to eat garlic. Studies have shown that garlic has a lot of anti-fungal properties. Some studies have even shown that this food treats athlete’s foot better than certain prescription medication.
- Also, try to limit processed foods in the diet. Sugary snacks, refined grains, fried foods, processed oils and such are unhealthy. If a person keeps consuming these, they may lead to an unhealthy immune system.
- Exercising regularly also helps keep the immune system strong. It enhances circulation, reduces stress, promotes better sleep, and so much more.
How to Prevent the Occurrence of Athlete’s Foot
Aside from keeping the immune system healthy, there are also ways to protect the feet from athlete’s foot actively. Having a healthy immune system is the first step. When one is sure of this, protect the feet as well by following these health tips:
- If a person leaves a damp environment, he must immediately wash his feet. Also, if the feet are prone to sweating, be sure to remove the socks when they sweat. After washing, dry the feet completely to avoid fungal infections.
- Do the same procedure after walking barefoot in a public place. Wash the feet then dry them completely.
- When drying the feet, make use or a hair dryer to do a thorough job. Otherwise, use a clean towel to dry the feet completely.
- Never share socks, towels or even razors with other people. This is especially true if the other person just recovered from athlete’s foot.
- Always wear clean and dry socks and shoes. After using a pair of socks, wash them with detergent and warm water. Do this to ensure that any harmful bacteria is eliminated.
- When reaching home, immediately take off shoes and socks. Do this to let the feet breathe.
- Don’t use tight-fitting shoes.
- If a person sustains scrapes, cuts or other such injuries on the feet, clean them carefully. After cleaning, protect the wound with a band-aid.
- Use anti-fungal powder on the feet each day to avoid excessive sweating.
- When walking around in public places such as swimming pools or public showers, use sandals or flip flops instead of bare feet.
There are many different ways to prevent the occurrence of athlete’s foot. There’s a common saying: prevention is better than cure. And this is very true. It’s so much better to prevent illness or an infection. However, people who have already been affected should be aware of it. Keep an eye out for any changes in the body. When a person knows the symptoms of an illness or an infection, it’s easier to spot them. And when the person identifies the infection early, treatment for it can come early too.