It’s the cause of that awful itching, stinging and burning between your toes. However, athlete’s foot can also occur on the soles of your feet and appear as itchy blisters.
The medical name for this annoying condition is tinea pedis. According to the Mayo Clinic, damp socks and shoes along with warm, humid conditions – so typical of a sports environment – spawn this fungus. Men are much more likely to get it than women. Ringworm and jock itch are cousins.
Most doctors advise first trying over-the-counter antifungals in cream, spray, powder or ointment form at home. These include brands such as Lotrimin AF, Mycelex, Micatin and Tinactin. If these don’t work, several stronger medications are available by prescription.
According to HowStuffWorks, home care should include drying thoroughly between your toes, keeping your feet dry, treating your shoes and alternating footwear. Some of the natural home remedies the site recommends for athlete’s foot include:
Baking soda. You can sprinkle it directly into your footwear to absorb any moisture lurking.
Cornstarch. It absorbs wetness, so rubbing it on your feet is a good move. Cornstarch browned by baking it in the oven is superior because that process removes any moisture in cornstarch straight from the box. Applying it daily for several weeks after drying your feet can obliterate the fungus and prevent another round.
Garlic. This natural remedy is known for its antifungal properties. Swabbing the area afflicted with garlic juice twice each day can help clear up the outbreak.
Cinnamon. Boil eight to 10 crushed cinnamon sticks in four cups of water. After they simmer for five minutes, allow the pot to steep for another 45 minutes. Soak your feet in this mixture for 15 to 30 minutes daily.
Yogurt. The live acidophilus in this food is a gladiator against fungus. The flavor is unimportant.
Lemons. Add lemon juice to two ounces of water and use the mixture to rinse your feet.
Vinegar. Use cider vinegar mixed in equal parts with ethyl alcohol. Dab the mixture on the areas afflicted with athlete’s foot. Warning: it stings. You can also soak your feet in a water-vinegar mixture for up to half an hour every night. Mix the water and vinegar 2:1.
Tea. Its tannic acid soothes your skin, helps kill the fungus and dries the affected foot. Try soaking your foot in a mixture of one quart of warm water with six black tea bags.
Salt. Make a soak using one teaspoon of salt for every cup of water. Soak you foot in it for 10 minutes. After drying, dust some baking soda between your toes as a chaser.
Home remedies can be very effective in sending the athlete’s food fungus packing and in avoiding a recurrence. However, under some conditions, you should consult a doctor. Among them is developing cracks in the webs between toes, a sign of a skin infection. If you see no improvement in the fungus within three weeks, you might have a different condition.
Should the episode worsen despite home treatment, one or both feet start to swell or you see any pus, seek medical attention. Non-prescription drugs and home remedies usually can’t cure toenail fungus. You should also see a physician if the athlete’s foot spreads to your hands.