Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It can also spread to the toenails and the hands and is common in athletes.
Tinea Pedis isn’t serious, but sometimes it’s hard to cure. If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system and suspect you have Tinea Pedis (athlete’s foot), you should call your doctor right away.
Tinea Pedis spreads when a person comes into contact with certain fungi, and it can spread from person to person. It thrives in damp and warm areas.
Common places for Tinea Pedis fungus to live are pool areas, public bathrooms, and locker rooms.
Causes of Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot happens when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. This fungus commonly attacks feet because of the following reasons:
- shoes and socks create a warm, moist environment that the fungi need to thrive
- feet are exposed to fungus and germs on the ground, especially if walking barefoot
- the toes area tends to be particularly damp and warm
Athlete’s foot comes from the belief that many athletic locker rooms and athletic equipment are hot, and present a moist environment where the fungi can spread.
Anyone can get athlete’s foot, as it is not exclusive for athletes. You can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person, or by touching surfaces tainted with the fungus.
Risk Factors For Athlete’s Foot
Anyone can get athlete’s foot, but certain behaviors increase your risk. Factors that increase your risk of getting athlete’s foot to include:
- visiting public places barefoot, especially locker rooms, showers, swimming pools, etc
- sharing socks, and shoes with an infected person
- putting on tight, closed-toe shoes
- keeping your feet wet for a long time
- having sweaty feet, or a minor skin or nail injury on your foot
Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot
There are many possible symptoms of Tinea Pedis -athlete’s foot. They include:
- stinging, and burning between your toes or on soles of your feet
- blisters on your feet
- Cracking and peeling skin on your feet. This is common between your toes and on your soles
- dry skin on your soles or sides of your feet
- red or pink skin on your feet
- toenails that may pull away from the nail bed
- bleached, thick, and crumbly toenails
A doctor may diagnose athlete’s foot by observing the symptoms. The doctor may order a skin test if he is not sure a fungal infection is causing your symptoms.
A skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam, where a doctor scrapes off a small area of infected skin and places it in potassium hydroxide, is the most common test for athlete’s foot.
The potassium hydroxide destroys normal cells and leaves the fungal cells undamaged so they are easy to see under a microscope.
Treatment for Tinea Pedis
There are good numbers of home remedies that work for Tinea Pedis, but if home remedies do not work or the problem has been going on for more than 2 weeks, a doctor or podiatrist may need to step in and help you.
Antifungal creams or medicines may be prescribed if the infection does not respond to home treatments. It is important for people to treat any case of athlete’s foot because the fungus can spread to the nails and other body parts. It can even spread to other people, including children.
Athlete’s foot can often be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal medications, or your doctor may prescribe topical or oral prescription-strength antifungal medications, for persistent infections.
There are many over-the-counter -OTC topical antifungal medications, including:
- butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
- tolnaftate (Tinactin)
- miconazole (Desenex)
- terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
- clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
Home Remedies For Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)
Athlete’s foot is a common skin problem on the feet. It is caused by a fungus, and its symptoms can be bothersome, although, it is rarely serious.
Home remedies can be quite effective in treating many cases of athlete’s foot, and many of these natural or home remedies can be helpful in killing the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia)
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree, and studies suggest that tea tree oil may help to kill fungi. It is known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and studies have found that solutions containing 25 percent and 50 percent tea tree oil worked significantly better than a placebo in relieving athlete’s foot between the toes.
The tea tree oil also cured the infection in 64% of the people who used it. Tea tree oil is more effective at killing fungi than several other antifungal agents.
People should take care when using tea tree oil because it can be irritating to the skin, and can cause rashes and irritation. Alternatively, tea tree oil creams and salves may be available at health food stores.
To use tea tree oil:
- place a few drops into a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil,
- Rub it on your feet.
People should not use undiluted tea tree oil on their skin, to avoid rashes and irritations
Garlic has a long history of medicinal use, and several studies have found garlic to be effective against microbes like fungi and bacteria.
A review in the Avicenna Journal of Medicine states that garlic can kill a variety of microorganisms, and there are some pieces of evidence that fresh garlic extract can kill or stop the growth of Candida, a common fungus that infects humans.
A report also states that it found that garlic has effective antifungal properties, and looked at a compound found in garlic known as ajoene. The compound cured athlete’s foot in every person who used it when it was made into a 0.4 percent cream and applied directly to the area.
A garlic foot soak using fresh garlic cloves is one way for people to try this garlic home remedy against athlete’s foot.
- Crush three to four garlic cloves and
- stir them into a basin of warm water.
- Soak feet for 30 minutes, twice a day for up to a week.
The only regret is that the powerful compounds in garlic can leave a lasting garlic smell on the skin.
Hydrogen Peroxide With Iodine
Hydrogen Peroxide and iodine are commonly used to disinfect cuts and wounds and to kill germs on the skin.
Hydrogen peroxide combined with iodine can kill different fungi, and the two used together to become even more effective than using them separately.
Iodine solution is available at most drugstores in the wound care section. To try this remedy:
- Mix iodine solution and hydrogen peroxide in a bucket or large bowl.
- Dip the feet directly in the solution, or
- Use a cotton pad to apply it to the affected area or areas.
Warning on Iodine Use
- Applying this mixture in a bathtub or shower may prevent unwanted stains, and bleaching.
- Do not use iodine on the skin without diluting it. It can damage the skin if used by itself. Iodine can also cause stains
- Peroxide may sting if the skin is broken or irritated, and can bleach hair and fabrics.
If fungi do not have an ideal environment to live in, they cannot continue to grow and increase. Getting rid of moisture from your feet can help keep the fungus from spreading.
People can remove moisture from their feet by thoroughly drying them with a hair dryer after bathing, making sure that no moisture remains. However, you have to be careful not to burn the skin.
People with loss of sensation in the feet should not use this method.
Using talcum powder is also to eliminate moisture and keep the toe dry. When the feet are dry, sprinkle them with talcum powder to help absorb sweat. Many foot powders contain talc and help keep the feet dry.
In addition to this step, wearing socks that absorbs moisture away from the skin can help keep the feet dry.
Similarly, changing socks at least once a day when feet feel sweaty or damp is also helpful. In warmer weather, wear open shoes or sandals to increase airflow to the feet.
Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
Baking soda has antifungal properties and could be used in a foot soak. Baking soda is an item most people have in their homes, and it may also be an effective way to cure athlete’s foot.
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) does have antifungal abilities when used on the skin. To make a foot soak:
- Mix about a half cup of baking soda in a large bucket or basin of warm water.
- Soak feet for 15 to 20 minutes, twice a day.
- Dry the feet thoroughly but do not rinse when done
Prevention Of Athlete’s Foot
There are ways to protect the feet from fungi and avoid getting athlete’s foot, getting a repeat infection or spreading it to others.
To keep feet fungus-free, follow these guidelines:
- Keep nails clipped short.
- Never walk barefoot in public places.
- Wear sandals or waterproof shoes in public pools, showers, locker rooms, bathrooms, etc…
- In addition to bathing, wash feet at least once a day and dry thoroughly.
- If a family member has athlete’s foot, disinfect the shower after each use until it is gone.
- Don’t share socks, shoes, or towels.
- Wear socks made out of breathable fibers, such as cotton or wool, or made out of synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from the skin.
- Change your socks when your feet get sweaty, and air out your feet when you are at home by going barefoot.
- Alternate between two pairs of shoes, wearing each pair every other day, to give your shoes time to dry out between uses.
Remember that moisture will allow the fungus to continue to grow, so try and starve your foot of unnecessary moisture.