Tinea pedis. Doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? What exactly is it? Tinea is the name of a group of common diseases caused by a fungus. When it grows on the feet it’s called tinea pedis, better known as the dreaded athlete’s foot. Although it’s not super serious, it can be uncomfortable, annoying and tenacious.
What is athlete's foot?
This type of fungus grows vigorously in moist, warm environments. Often it can be found in workout areas, pools, locker-room floors and showers. Coming into contact with surfaces contaminated by the fungus can develop into athlete’s foot and cause itching, burning and cracking on the feet and between the toes. Unfortunately, the moist environment in our necessary workout footwear — socks and sneakers — exacerbates the condition and causes the fungus to grow.
Several natural and at-home treatments work very well with minimal effort and time. Remember to always wash your hands before and after applying treatment to prevent the affected area from developing a bacterial infection, and keep the fungal infection from spreading to another part of your body such as the hand or groin (jock itch!). If the home remedy is not working or it’s been more than two weeks, it’s best to consult a podiatrist or doctor. But rest assured, athlete’s foot is known to respond well to at-home treatments. Here are five fixes that work at kicking tenacious tinea to the curb.
At-Home remedies for athlete's foot
1. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is known for its antibacterial and antifungal benefits. Make a concentration of a few drops of tea tree oil combined with a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil and apply two to four times a day. Remember to always use a carrier oil when using tea tree oil.
2. Neem oil or extract
Neem is an herb that comes from the neem tree. Neem oil or extract has antifungal benefits that help alleviate athlete’s foot. Apply the extract directly to the affected area and massage into the skin two to three times a day.
3. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill the fungus and any bacteria on the surface. Pour right on the problem area. It will bubble and may sting just a little. Do this two times a day until the rash is gone.
4. Sea salt foot bath
Another antibacterial and antifungal champion is sea salt, making it a great natural treatment. Dissolve one cup of sea salt in a warm-water foot bath and soak for 20 minutes. Dry feet and between toes thoroughly.
5. Baking soda foot soak
Baking soda is a readily available item in most homes. Mix about ½ cup of baking soda with warm water in a large foot bath or basin and soak for about 15 to 20 minutes, two times a day. Do not rinse your feet, but make sure to dry thoroughly.
How to prevent athlete's foot
Try these remedies if you have athlete’s foot and your toes will be thanking you in no time. And to prevent the itch and burn from stealing the pep from your step in the future, follow these proactive tips:
- When at home, let your feet breathe by going barefoot.
- Always dry your feet after showering, especially between your toes.
- Alternate your workout shoes so they have time to air out between workouts.
- Sprinkle the inside of your shoes with baking soda or tea tree foot powder before and after exercising.
- Always change your socks.
- Wear shower shoes/flip flops in locker rooms, showers and pool areas.
- Keep toenails short.
- Wash any infected socks, towels and clothing separately in hot water to kill the fungus, and dry them on the highest dryer temperature.
Here’s to happy feet!