Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is caused by a variety of fungi belonging to a group of fungi called dermatophytes, which also causes ringworm and jock itch. Rarely, an athlete’s foot may be caused by non dermatophytes infection, such as yeast (candida). Athlete's foot usually begins between the toes, presenting with a scaly rash associated with itching, stinging, and burning. Athlete's foot is contagious and spreads through contaminated floors, towels, shoes, socks, or other clothing. With appropriate treatment, most cases of athlete’s foot, clear up within 2 weeks.
How to get rid of athlete’s foot?
- Over the counter (OTC) antifungal creams, ointment, or lotions, such as Clotrimazole, and antifungal powders can be applied to the affected area three times a day.
- Prescription-strength antifungal lotions, creams, or ointments may be advised by the doctor if OTC products don’t help.
- Antifungal creams and ointments containing anti-inflammatory medication like steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammations and itching.
- Antifungal pills may be prescribed for severe cases, resistant to other forms of treatment.
- Antihistamine pills may be advised to help reduce itching.
It is advised to consult with a doctor before using natural remedies. Natural remedies alone may not always help to cure athlete’s foot. They may be used along with medical treatment. If the rash worsens, it is advised to visit the doctor right away.
- Soap and water: Keeping the affected area clean is important. The affected area can be cleaned using a simple over the counter antiseptic soap and water. The area should be dried because moisture can worsen the condition by promoting fungal growth. Cleansing with soap and water should be done before applying other treatments.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Tea tree oil can be effective in treating an athlete’s foot and soothes the skin. Tea tree oil may be applied to the affected area directly. Those with sensitive skin can dilute tea tree oil with another carrier oil like jojoba oil and coconut oil.
- Oregano oil: Oregano oil is an essential oil and a powerful antifungal compared to many commercial products. They are effective in treating fungal skin infections, including athlete’s foot and ringworm. This may be applied three times a day.
- Licorice: Research has shown that licorice has strong antimicrobial properties, and licorice extracts is beneficial as an alternative treatment for fungal infections. Eight teaspoons of licorice powder can be mixed with one cup of water and boiled. Once the mixture cools, it may be applied to the affected area and allowed to dry. The paste may be washed off after 10 to 15 minutes. This may be repeated twice a day.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil has both antimicrobial and antifungal properties and is effective against various species of fungi. Coconut oil can be mixed with tea tree oil. Coconut oil nourishes the skin as well. Warm coconut oil may also be used. Coconut oil may be applied thrice a day over the affected area.
- Consuming turmeric: Turmeric has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying turmeric over the affected area is usually not advised because it can change the characteristics and appearance of the rash, making it difficult for the doctor to diagnose. Freshly ground turmeric or turmeric spice can be mixed with water or hot tea every day for its internal benefits, such as boosting immunity.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a strong antimicrobial. It can safely be applied directly over the affected area. It also helps to balance the pH of the skin.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is beneficial against both bacterial and fungal infections. It also soothes the affected area and has a cooling effect on the skin. It can also help reduce itching, redness, inflammation, and discomfort. Aloe vera gel can be applied directly to the area and reapplied any number of times.
The following steps can help get rid of an athlete’s foot faster and reduce the risk of recurrence of infection:
- Maintaining hygiene: Regular washing of hands with an antiseptic handwash or using a sanitizer. Showering after playing sports and using the pool or gym is important to maintain hygiene.
- Remaining cool and dry and avoiding excessive sweating
- Wearing light, breathable clothing
- Avoiding wearing wet, damp, or sweaty clothes, socks, and shoes for a long period
- Wearing washed and well-dried clothes and socks every time
- Wearing flipflops or any footwear in public showers and public spaces like the beach
- Maintaining the hygiene of pets by appropriate grooming methods
- Avoiding touching animals that may be infected
- Avoiding sharing of personal items, such as clothing, towels, hairbrushes, sports gear, utensils, with others
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