Athlete’s Foot-Natural Cures and Remedies

Athlete’s Foot-Prevalence in General Population

Why write an article about curing athlete’s foot? Well, for many good reasons. To start with, it’s not an exclusive club limited to just athletes, or feet for that matter. It is the most common fungal infection of the skin. Athlete’s foot effects about 15%-25% of all people at any given time. UK findings suggest that athlete’s foot is present in about 15% of the general population. Dermatology clinics in Italy found prevalence’s of 25%. In China it came in at about 27% and in Israel the prevalence among children clocks in at around 30%. Secondly, over 70% of all people worldwide will contract the condition during some point in their lives. That’s a lot of fungus!

Before we investigate some of these miraculous cures, let’s first take a look at just what athlete’s foot is all about.

 

What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot, scientifically known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the upper layers of dead skin on the foot. There are several subspecies of fungus found in Africa and Europe, however, the two types of fungus that most commonly cause athlete’s foot are Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. T. rubrum usually effects the area between the toes and is easily treated. T. mentagrophytes can effect the entire foot, causing what is known as “moccasin foot” and would be considered a chronic condition that is much harder to treat and eradicate. The fungus is a parasite and feeds on keratin which is a protein found in dead skin, hair and nails. They do not attack or feed on living tissue and prefers dark, moist, warm conditions to thrive, and the foot in our shoe is the ideal habitat for the fungus to grow and multiply.

 

Symptoms

The symptoms which might present themselves, depending on which type of fungus you have been affected with, are many. Some of the more common symptoms are itching, burning and stinging between the toes, usually between the last two smaller ones. You may also experience these symptoms on the soles of your feet. The skin may become red and raw and the sweat may seem to be sticky or tacky with a foul smell akin to vinegar and/or yeast. Cracking, peeling and dry skin anywhere on the foot are less common and may indicate a more invasive chronic infection. The infected areas may also show signs of swelling and small blisters may appear on the surface of the skin.

 

How Do You Get It?

Athlete’s foot is a contagious disease and can be contracted in a number of ways. It can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact. Direct contraction can occur when an individual comes into direct contact with the skin of another individual who is infected. Indirect contact can occur when an individual comes into contact with the fungus on inanimate objects such as towels, locker room floors, shared showers in the home, gym, pool or workout center. Sharing socks and footwear with an infected individual can also lead to a cross infection. Pets who are allowed to roam outdoors can also carry the fungus and transmit it into the dwelling where it may infect the entire family or household.

The spores, or “seeds”, of the fungus can survive for years in a dormant state, without food or moisture, when conditions are less than favorable for it to thrive. As soon as an unsuspecting host, a foot we’ll say, comes walking along and comes into contact with these spores, they soon emerge from this dormant state and begin to proliferate.

 

Susceptibility

Some people are more susceptible in contracting athlete’s foot. Certain individuals may come into contact with the fungus and never develop the condition at all or even know that they are carrying it. They are, however, able to act as carriers and in turn infect other people. The reported prevalence of athlete’s foot in men is higher than in women. Susceptibility also increases with age. If you have a history of being susceptible to fungal infections, you stand more of a chance of contracting athlete’s foot. Certain medications such as antibiotics, birth control pills and corticosteroids also increase your chances of contracting the condition. If your immune system is impaired or compromised due to conditions such as diabetes, HIV or cancer, you may contract the disease more readily than others. If your immune system is weakened due to stress, poor diet, smoking or the over consumption of alcohol, you also may be at risk of contracting athlete’s foot. You may also be more susceptible in contracting it if you live in a climate that is warm and humid most of the time.

 

Just For Feet?

Not many people are aware of the fact that the same fungi that causes athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of the body. It is confusing to many due to the fact that the fungus that causes athlete’s foot is most usually termed a different name when it affects other parts of the body. It is called jock itch when it affects the area of the groin, ringworm when it affects areas of the skin other than the feet, Tinea capitus when it affects the scalp, Tinea barbae when found within the beard, Tinea faciei when it grows on the face and Tinea manuum when it infests the palms of hands. It can also infect the underarms, legs nails and virtually any other part of the body. All of these conditions are caused by the identical organism. The fungus can spread to these other areas simply by touching an affected area with your fingers and transmitting it to another part of the body or by spreading the fungus around with a towel. If you have athlete’s foot, it is suggested that you dry your feet first with a separate towel other than the one you will be using to dry off the rest of your body.

 

Complications

Normally, athlete’s foot is a fairly common condition that, with a little effort and diligence, can be effectively treated and eliminated. However, there are several things to watch out for if you are suffering from athlete’s foot. The main concern is secondary bacterial infection. This can occur when the skin becomes broken due to scratching which can be an open invitation to pathogens. If left untreated, the bacteria can migrate to the deeper tissues of the body and can cause septicemia (blood poisoning), which can be a life threatening condition. Patients who are considered obese, or have HIV, diabetes or cancer pose a higher risk of contracting a bacterial infection than do the average populace due to the fact of them having a lowered immune system. Diabetics in particular need to take certain precautions to prevent any bacterial infections of the feet from becoming dangerous foot ulcerations.

 

Prevention

The first and foremost tactic in preventing an infection by athlete’s foot fungus is to keep your body healthy. When your body is experiencing optimal health, your immune system also tends to be operating and functioning at its maximum efficiency thus has the ability to fend off undesirable pathogenic invaders. A diet rich in fresh, whole food while avoiding denatured processed food is a must. This aspect will be further addressed in a future article.

 

  • Ensure that your feet are completely dry prior to putting on socks and footwear. If you are prone to athlete’s foot or have had it in the past, you may opt to “finish” off the drying process by using a blow dryer set on low.
  • Keep your feet clean and be sure to never wear the same socks twice.
  • If your feet are prone to heavy sweating, you may choose to change your socks twice daily.
  • Wear socks that are made from natural fibers such as cotton or wool.
  • If at all possible, air out your feet as much as as you can throughout the course of the day. Exposing them to sunshine can also be extremely beneficial.
  • If you live near the beach, a barefoot wade in the salty water can work wonders.
  • Wear shower sandals in gym showers, locker rooms, hotel rooms and whenever you frequent public pools.
  • Ensure that your feet are completely dry prior to putting on socks and footwear. If you are prone to athlete’s foot or have had it in the past, you may opt to “finish” off the drying process by using a blow dryer set on low.
  • Keep your feet clean and be sure to never wear the same socks twice. If your feet are prone to heavy sweating, you may choose to change your socks twice daily.
  • Wear socks that are made from natural fibers such as cotton or wool.
  • If at all possible, air out your feet as much as as you can throughout the course of the day. Exposing them to sunshine can also be extremely beneficial.
  • If you live near the beach, a barefoot wade in the salty water can work wonders.
  • Wear shower sandals in gym showers, locker rooms, hotel rooms and whenever you frequent public pools.
  • Try to wear shoes that are well ventilated and choose ones that are not entirely made from plastics and rubber.
  • If you have an active case of athlete’s foot, wash out the shower or bath with a strong disinfectant after each use. Never share towels and always wash your hands well after coming into contact with the effected areas.

 

Natural Remedies and Home Cures

There are many natural remedies that can alleviate and cure athlete’s foot just as effectively as over the counter or prescription drugs, creams and ointments. In many cases, I have found that these home remedies actually work faster and are more effective when it comes to eradicating athlete’s foot. The benefits of using these methods is that there are virtually no side effects; most of us may already have the items in our house. The treatment also works out to be drastically less expensive then doctors visits and medically prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Some methods may seem to be a bit bizarre such as using bleach, deodorants and antiperspirants, Vicks Vaporub, yogurt and iodine. I won’t get into every proposed cure that’s on the internet. Instead, I will focus only on the methods that I have used and which have had the most positive results.
Note: Fungus and yeasts, much like bacteria, have the ability to build up an immunity and resistance to certain treatments, so alternating and combining remedies will produce the most beneficial results. Also, it is advisable to continue the treatment for a period of time after the symptoms have disappeared to ensure that all of the fungus is killed off. A periodic treatment every now and again, even when you are symptom free, is also extremely beneficial at keeping the invaders at bay.

 

  1. Ozonated Olive Oil or Paste- This oil or paste, originally developed by Nikola Tesla, has the remarkable ability to cure and treat many different ailments and conditions; from warts, poison ivy, poison oak, blisters, burns, acne, sunburn, cuts, bruises, and many more. It is basically highly oxygenated (O3) infused oil. Massage well into your feet, at least up to the ankles, being sure to get in between the toes and under the nails as much as possible. Do this once in the morning and once in the evening before going to bed. Condition usually clears up within 2-4 days.
  2. Tea Tree/Lemongrass Oil- This is one of my favorites and by far one of the most effective. You can apply these essential oils, in equal parts, directly onto the effected areas straight out of the bottle. Use a cotton bud or cotton ball to apply evenly. Considering that some people are sensitive to essential oils, be sure to first dab a small bit on your skin to ensure that you won’t have a reaction. Do this once in the morning and once in the evening before you go to bed. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may observe noticeable results the following day. I also recommend rubbing a generous amount of this mixture to the inside of your shoes. If you are sensitive to either of these oils you may want to try diluting them in a pan of warm water or foot bath. Add 30 drops of each and soak feet for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar/Himalayan Sea Salt- This is also another highly effective method that is used to banish athlete’s foot fungus. This will create a highly acidic environment in which the fungus simply can not survive. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of the salt in warm water and add a 1/2 cup of the vinegar. Raw, organic, unfiltered vinegar seems to work the best. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Other Essential Oils- Neem, Lavender and Oregano- These oils contain compounds which possess highly anti-fungal properties. They can either be used on their own or combined with each other. Use neat or 20 drops of each diluted in warm water. Twice daily.
  5. Coconut Oil- The effects that coconut oil has on killing yeasts and fungus can not be over emphasized! It is a truly amazing remedy for a plethora of ailments. Be sure to use raw, cold pressed unbleached oil. Coconut oil contains high amounts of caprylic acid which is highly anti-fungal. Apply twice daily to affected areas.
  6. Fresh Raw Ginger- Grate about an ounce of ginger into 1 cup of water and simmer for twenty minutes. Let cool and either soak or apply the liquid directly onto your feet. Again, twice daily seems to yield the best results.
  7. Fresh Raw Garlic- Although this may not seem to be the easiest, and odor friendly way of eradicating athlete’s foot, it still is highly effective. Crush about 4 cloves of garlic into a smooth paste. Apply to the effected areas paying particular attention to the areas in between the toes. This could be done twice per day.
  8. Ginger and Turmeric Essential Oils- These oils on their own have amazing anti-fungal properties, but when combined, they exert a synergistic effect which increases their potency. Combine the oils in equal proportions and apply directly onto the affected areas or dilute 30 drops of each into a warm foot bath.
  9. Olive Oil and Sesame Oil- These two oils have good anti-fungal properties. Mix both together and apply to affected ares twice daily.
  10. Olive Leaf Extract- Olive leaf contains natural anti-fungals and when extracted in its concentrated form it is even more effective in treating athlete’s foot. Apply directly to effected area twice daily. It can also be purchased as a tea where it can be infused in hot water to make a foot soak. Twice daily.
  11. Pau d’arco- Pau d’arco is a truly amazing natural medicine; to amazing to list all of its benefits here. I Suggest you do a little research into this powerful healing aid. Pau d’arco is a tree found in South and Central America in which the inner bark of the tree is used medicinally. It has incredibly strong anti-fungal properties. Simply add 3 tablespoons to 1 quart (litre) of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and soak feet for 30 minutes. This brew can be used several times. To enhance the properties, squeeze half a lemon into the water when simmering and add in 1 lemongrass stalk.
  12. Cinnamon and Lemon Soak- Break up about 10 cinnamon sticks and add to 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool the liquid down and squeeze in 2 lemons just before you soak your feet. Twice daily. This mixture can be used multiple times.

 

So, I hope that this information served you well and good luck trying out these remedies to finally wipe out that bothersome fungi.

Be sure to check out my next post which will cover what you can do to effectively combat athlete’s foot from a dietary standpoint.

 

Author: David Rossi is a Certified Nutritional Therapist at Back To Life Therapies, http://backtolifetherapies.weebly.com/ and operates a clinic in Wicklow Town, Ireland. He also consults national and international clients through a confidential Skype session. With a strong university medical back round in biology, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, David is able to apply this knowledge to his current field. His main focus is Nutritional Therapy, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Management, Reiki and Body Detox.

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