Medically known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects the feet. It is important to recognize the symptoms because it’s contagious and requires treatment.
Luckily, there are home remedies and treatments to help get rid of athlete’s foot.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
As the name implies, this fungal infection is more common in athletes. However, many other people can get it, especially those living in hot, tropical, and urban areas.
Fungi thrive in hot, humid environments. Wearing shoes further creates an environment where fungi can grow. The most common fungi responsible for athlete’s foot are T.rubrum, T.interdigitale, and E.floccosum.
There are three main types of athlete’s foot infections.
Tinea Unguium – fungal infection of the toenails
Jock Itch or Tinea Cruris – fungal infection of the inner thighs
Tinea Manum – fungal infection of the arms
Athlete’s foot can develop in everyone at any age. Although, it’s more common in young adults, especially males. This infection is contagious and usually acquired from direct contact. Oftentimes it’s contracted in a shared public shower or a towel.
Those more susceptible to athlete’s foot include:
Those who wear heavy boots for long hours
People who sweat a lot
Individuals with diabetes
People with poor peripheral circulation
Those with weakened immune systems
Individuals taking immunosuppressive medication
A doctor can diagnose the condition based on a physical examination. They may also ask about your medical history. To confirm athlete’s foot, they may need to take a skin biopsy.
How to Get Rid of Athlete’s Foot
It’s important to keep your feet clean and dry. Make sure to wear foot coverings when in public places like showers or gyms. Also, avoid sharing towels.
Be sure to wash all your towels and clothes on the hottest setting when you have athlete’s foot. Below are some home remedies to get rid of athlete’s foot fast.
Many antimicrobial agents work because they generate hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is effective against various fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
You can use a straight 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to treat athlete’s foot. Simply pour a small amount of the solution on the affected skin. Remove excess liquid with a cotton ball and let it dry.
If you see bubbles forming, it’s because the hydrogen peroxide is killing bacteria. Your skin may sting a bit when applying the solution.
Make sure to use hydrogen peroxide with 3% dilution. It’s often marketed as an antiseptic solution for the skin. Do not use a more concentrated form, which is normally sold for bleaching hair.
One of the most well-known home remedies for athlete’s foot is tea tree oil. It has documented antifungal qualities. While it may not be the fastest way, it is very effective to manage athlete’s foot.
A randomized controlled study found that diluted tea tree oil is effective in getting rid of athlete’s foot. Researchers found a significant improvement in 68% of participants using 50% tea tree oil. There was also improvement in 72% of participants using 25% tea tree oil. They compared these findings to the 39% improvement in the placebo group.
If you buy undiluted tea tree oil, combine it with liquid coconut, olive, or almond oil. Try to get tea tree oil with a 25% or 50% concentration.
Other essential oils with antifungal qualities include clove, oregano, and lavender oils. For best results, dilute these oils and apply them to the affected areas twice a day.
Betadine (Povidone-Iodine, 10%)
Betadine cream is safe and effective to manage athlete’s foot. Not only does it kill fungi, but also many bacteria and viruses. For this reason, it’s widely used in hospitals before surgeries. While betadine cream is not always available, most pharmacies carry betadine solutions. They’re usually marked as povidone-iodine, 10%.
Apply a small amount on the skin and let it dry. It does have a rusty color and can stain clothes, so be careful.
Terbinafine and miconazole creams are commonly used antifungal ointments for athlete’s foot. For nail infections, you can use terbinafine and itraconazole.
Which one works faster? Terbinafine proves to be the most effective.
Research studies confirm using terbinafine for one week is just as good as using miconazole cream for four weeks.
How to Get Rid of Athlete’s Foot Long-Term
Once you eliminate the fungal infection, it is best to avoid it for the long term. Boost your immune system health to reduce the risk of getting fungal infections. Eating healthy foods and eliminating high sugar, processed foods is a good start.
Probiotic supplements can help support a healthy skin microbiome. This will then protect against fungal infections. We associate athlete’s foot with alterations of the skin microbiome. The development of fungal infections involves the overgrowth of certain bacteria.
When working out or walking around in warm weather, choose breathable shoes and cotton socks. There are other more sophisticated options available online.
Shoe sanitizers based on UVC light or special fabrics to reduce moisture are ideal. However, nobody tested them for efficacy yet. If you decide to purchase these products, choose a reputable brand.
With these measures, you can relieve and prevent athlete’s foot in the future.