Athlete's foot is the most common fungal infection of the skin. It affects more men than women, probably because men typically wear heavy, often airtight shoes, and the fungus loves hot, dark, moist environments.
Contrary to popular myth, athlete's foot fungus isn't just found in locker rooms, although the moist locker-room environment is perfect for fungal growth. In fact, most people harbor the fungus on their skin, but it's kept in check by bacteria that also normally live on the skin.
Skin that is irritated, weakened, or continuously moist is primed for an athlete's foot infection. And certain medications, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, birth control pills, and drugs that suppress immune function, can make you more susceptible. People who are obese and those who have diabetes mellitus or a weakened immune system, such as those with AIDS, also are at increased risk. Although anyone can get athlete's foot, teenage and adult males are at the top of the fungus-foot list.
Most cases of athlete's foot cause only bothersome redness, itching, flaking, and scaling on the soles of the feet and between the toes. In severe cases, however, blisters form on the soles of the feet; fissures, or cracks, that weep fluid can also open between the toes. These fissures can cause a stinging pain and are vulnerable to secondary infection. When the infection involves the toenails, it can cause the nails to become discolored and thick. Also, if left untreated, athlete's foot can infect other parts of the body.
Quick Tips:Amazing Natural Remedies for Athlete's Foot
Keep your feet dry, and use over-the-counter treatments to clear your infection quickly. Best Foot Forward
- While severe or stubborn cases of athlete's foot may require a doctor's care, most can be effectively treated at home. The following strategies can help you soothe and heal athlete's foot and keep it from cropping up in the future.
- Move away from moisture.
- When you think about athlete's foot fungus, remember that it likes moist, warm, dark environments. All of your treatment and prevention strategies should center around keeping your feet as dry as possible.
- Dry thoroughly between your toes.
- If you can't get your feet dry enough with a towel, try drying them with a handheld hair dryer on the "warm" setting.
- Soap up.
- Wash your feet twice a day with soap and water, and dry them thoroughly.
- Kick off your shoes.
- Go barefoot or wear sandals or open-toed shoes whenever you can, when not in a moist environment. Of course, it's not always possible to go barefoot, especially at work. But you may be able to sneak off those shoes during lunch, at break time, or when you're sitting at your desk. Going barefoot is best done indoors, where you are less likely to cut, scrape, or otherwise injure your foot.
- Medicate 'em.
- Over-the-counter antifungal preparations are very effective for most cases of athlete's foot. These products come in creams, sprays, or solutions and contain tolnaftate (Tinactin), miconazole (Micatin), or undecylenic acid (Desenex). Creams seem to be more effective, but powders can help absorb moisture. Apply the medication twice a day after washing and drying the feet.
- Be persistent.
- Too often, people stop using the antifungal preparations as soon as symptoms go away. The fungus, however, may still be present, so continue to use the medication for three to six weeks. Once the infection has cleared, keep using the antifungal cream, powder, or lotion once a day or once a week, whatever keeps your feet fungus free.
- Soak them in Betadine.
- If the infection has caused redness and cracks between the toes, the fungal infection may be compounded by a bacterial infection. Soak your feet once a day for 20 minutes in a solution of two capfuls Betadine (available over-the-counter at pharmacies) and one quart warm water (skip this remedy if you are pregnant, however). After the Betadine soak, dry your feet well, and apply antifungal medication.
- Don't bleach.
- While the idea is to dry out the infection, avoid home remedies that involve strong chemicals and solvents, such as bleach, alcohol, or floor cleaners, which can severely damage skin.
- Treat your shoes.
- If you have fungus on your feet, you've got fungus in your shoes. To keep from reinfecting yourself every time you put your shoes on, treat your shoes with Lysol spray or an antifungal spray or powder every time you take off your shoes.
- Air 'em out.
- On warm, sunny days, take the laces out of your shoes, pull up their tongues, and set them in a sunny, well-ventilated place. The sunshine and circulating air will help dry out the shoes and kill fungus.
- Alternate shoes.
- Switch shoes at least every other day. Wear one pair for a day, while you treat the other pair with sunlight and an antifungal spray or powder. If your feet sweat a lot, change your shoes a couple times a day.
- Choose shoes with care.
- When you have to wear shoes, opt for sandals or other opened-toed shoes that give your feet lots of air. Avoid shoes made of plastic or rubber or shoes that are watertight. These shoes trap perspiration and create the warm, moist conditions perfect for growing a new crop of fungus. When you must wear closed-toed shoes, opt for natural, breathable materials such as leather. And don't share or swap shoes with anyone. If you find yourself with a pair of someone else's vintage shoes, treat them with an antifungal powder before you put them on.
- Exercise your sock options.
- Socks made of natural fibers such as cotton and wool help to absorb perspiration and keep the feet dry. However, some research suggests acrylic socks may do an even better job of keeping feet dry by wicking moisture away from the feet. So what kind do you choose? Try a pair of both, and see which one keeps your feet drier and more comfortable.
- If your feet naturally sweat a lot or if you're participating in activities such as sports that make your feet sweat more than usual, change your socks two or three times a day.
- Wear thongs.
- When you're in a public place likely to harbor athlete's foot fungus, such as the locker room of your favorite gym, wear thongs or similar shower shoes to limit your exposure to fungus. Although this technique isn't foolproof, it will decrease your risk of athlete's foot, and it may prevent you from picking up other nasty foot maladies, such as plantar warts.
- Numerous antifungal creams are on the market that can rid you of your foot fungus. They tend to be costly, though, and you may have to buy several tubes or cans before the problem is cleared up. Before you trudge off to the pharmacy on those poor, itchy feet, you might want to try some of the home remedies.
- Everyday items in your kitchen can help prevent athlete's foot and ease uncomfortable symptoms. Keep reading for home remedies that fight the fungus.
- Baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda directly into your shoes to absorb moisture.
- Cornstarch. Rub cornstarch, which absorbs moisture, on your feet. Very lightly browned cornstarch is even better because any moisture content already contained in the cornstarch is removed, allowing for better absorption. To brown, sprinkle cornstarch on a pie plate and bake at 325 degrees for just a few minutes, until it looks brownish. Then dab some on your feet and toes.Crush 1 clove garlic and mix with a few drops of olive oil to make a paste. Apply to the nail and leave on for 15 to 30 minutes, then clean off in warm, soapy water. Dry feet thoroughly. Repeat daily. Because the fungus can return, you may wish to continue this treatment for several weeks after the fungus has disappeared, just to ward off another fungal visit.
- Garlic. Eat some garlic! It has antifungal properties. You can also swab the affected area with garlic juice twice a day. If your toenail appears to have the fungus, use this recipe:
- Crush 1 clove garlic and mix with a few drops of olive oil to make a paste. Apply to the nail and leave on for 15 to 30 minutes, then clean off in warm, soapy water. Dry feet thoroughly. Repeat daily. Because the fungus can return, you may wish to continue this treatment for several weeks after the fungus has disappeared, just to ward off another fungal visit.
- Immune-boosting foods. Low immunity can make you more susceptible to a fungal infection, so include some of these immune-boosting foods in your diet: broccoli, red meats, and scallions. (See also "Home Remedies From the Cupboard" for more immune-boosting foods.)
- Cinnamon. A good soak in a cinnamon tea foot bath will help slow down the fungus. Boil 8 to 10 broken cinnamon sticks in 4 cups water, then simmer for five minutes. Let steep for another 45 minutes. Soak your feet for 15 to 30 minutes. Repeat daily, as needed.
- Yogurt. One of the greatest of all fungus-fighting foods in your fridge is yogurt that contains live acidophilus. The flavor isn't important as long as the yogurt contains the active bacteria. (Commercial yogurts with live culture now carry a seal indicating this; a live culture is crucial!) Acidophilus helps control vaginal and oral yeast, but it may give other fungi a pretty good fight, too. And if nothing else, it tastes good and is good for you.
- Lemon. This remedy will help you in the sweaty foot-odor department. Squeeze the juice from a lemon and mix it with 2 ounces water. Rinse your feet with the lemon water.
- Vinegar. Soak your feet in 1 cup vinegar to 2 quarts water for 15 to 30 minutes every night. Or make a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 1 cup water, and apply it directly to the affected areas with a cotton ball. If the infection is severe and the skin is raw, the solution will sting. Make sure your feet are completely dry before putting on your socks or slippers. Cider vinegar can also be used as a remedy. Mix equal parts apple cider (or regular) vinegar and ethyl alcohol. Dab on the affected areas. Again, be aware this will sting if the skin is raw.
- Tea. The tannic acid in tea is soothing, helps to dry the foot, and helps kill the fungus. Make a foot soak by putting 6 black tea bags in 1 quart warm water.
- Salt. Soak your infected foot in warm salt water, using 1 teaspoon salt for each cup of water, for 10 minutes. Dry your foot thoroughly, then dab some baking soda between your toes.
- Athlete's foot can be an irritating and even painful problem, but a little vigilance and the simple remedies in this article can keep your feet dry and healthy. See the next page for when to see a doctor for athlete's foot.
- Use anti-fungal creams or sprays. Being a relatively common affliction, there are plenty of over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments available. Head to your local pharmacy or drugstore, and grab sprays or creams that focus on killing the fungus responsible for your discomfort. Apply daily for 3-6 weeks, even after visible symptoms dissipate to ensure the total elimination of the fungus from your system.
- Try a bleach soak. As with most fungi, a bit of bleach will quickly kill your athlete's foot. Add a gallon of lukewarm water with a tablespoon of bleach to a tub, and soak your feet for ten minutes. Be wary of adding more than a tablespoon of bleach though, as too much might do more harm than good. Keeping this in your nightly routine will rid you of athlete's foot in no time!.
- Soak your feet in betadine. Similar to a bleach soak, using betadine to soak your tootsies will kill of the fungus causing your itching and burning. Grab a bottle of this over-the-counter medication, and add two capfuls with a quart of warm water. Soak your feet in the solution for 20 minutes on a daily basis, continuing until your symptoms disappear.
- Make a vinegar soak. So you’re not into using chemicals and don’t want to take a trip to the pharmacy - no worries! You can create an all natural foot soak using regular vinegar at home. Add one cup of regular or apple cider vinegar to two quarts of water, and let your feet absorb its healing goodness. Do this for 20-30 minutes on a daily basis.
- Use a bit of black tea. Tannic acid is one of the great bonuses black tea has to offer; its soothing qualities help to fight off fungi and heal your feet. Add 6 teabags of any black tea to a quart of warm water, and allow the mixture to brew. Soak your feet in the tea bath or dab it on several times a day with a cotton ball.
- Improve your feet with cinnamon. Whether you want to make your house smell like fall in addition to killing fungus, or you just don’t have the ingredients for the aforementioned foot soaks, making a soak of cinnamon sticks is another all-natural method of killing the fungi. Soak 4-5 stick of cinnamon in a gallon of hot water to create a tea. Then, let your feet relax as the cinnamon naturally kicks the fungus out from between your toes.
- Use a bit of salt. Although not as comfortable as a cinnamon bath or tea/toe steeping, soaking your feet in salt water might do the trick to kill your athlete's foot. Mix 1 teaspoon of regular table salt per every 1 cup of warm water. Allow the salt to dissolve, and soak your feet in the solution for 10-15 minutes.
- Rub your feet with cornstarch. This fine powder works wonders at absorbing moisture. Sprinkle cornstarch onto your feet and between your toes to soak up excess moisture that the fungus is feeding off of. This process can be continued even after your athlete's foot disappears to maintain healthy, dry, fungi-free feet.
- Make a garlic paste. Although strong in scent and taste, the antibacterial and antifungal properties of garlic make it a great choice for ridding your feet of irritating athlete's foot. Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and mix with a teaspoon of olive oil to form a paste (you can add more garlic or less olive oil if your paste is not thick enough). Apply the paste to the affected area of your feet and along the edges of your toenails for 15-20 minutes. When finished, rinse the paste off with warm water and dry your feet completely.
- Dab on some lemon juice. Not only will the acid in the lemon kill the bacteria and fungus on your feet, its sweet citrus scent will have your toes smelling fresh and clean. Mix the juice of one lemon with two ounces of water. Dab this solution onto the affected area of your feet with a cotton ball several times daily.
- Eat more yogurt. The live cultures in yogurt are beneficial not only for your digestion, but also for treating athlete's foot! Look for yogurt advertising live cultures, specifically the bacteria acidophilus. Eat any flavor of this bacteria-filled yogurt at least once a day for the best results.
- Preventing Athlete's Foot
- Continue treatment. Fungi have a nasty habit of sticking around in our bodies long after they show up on our skin. Continue your chosen method(s) of treatment for 3-6 weeks total, even after all external signs of athlete's foot have disappeared. This will make sure that the fungus has truly left your system, and making a second round of the skin ailment much less likely.
- Let your feet breathe. But not too much. The amount of exposure your feet require takes walking a thin line; too much, and you might contract the fungus again. Too little exposure, and moisture build up will, again, cause a second bout of athlete's foot. Try to wear sandals and shoes that allow your feet to breathe, but avoid walking barefoot. When you are walking in moist areas (such as at a pool or in the shower), wear flip-flops or other shoes that protect your feet from contacting the fungi-filled floors.
- Treat and Prevent Athlete's Foot Step 3Bullet1.jpg
- Disinfect your shoes. Any shoes you wore during the period of time you suffered from atheletes foot are inevitably contaminated with the fungi. Purchase an antifungal powder that focuses on this particular problem, and sprinkle it in all your shoes on a weekly basis.
- Treat and Prevent Athlete's Foot Step 4Bullet1.jpg
- Keep your feet dry. Fungi grow best in moist areas, making sweaty feet a prime environment. Keep your feet dry at all times, using a towel to absorb excess moisture between your toes and on the soles of your feet after showering, sweating heavily, or swimming. Doing this on a regular basis will produce an environment inhospitable to the fungi that cause athlete's foot.
- Treat and Prevent Athlete's Foot .
- Wear cotton socks. Heavy socks that trap moisture are a no-go if you are a sufferer of athlete's foot. Make the transition to wearing only cotton socks that allow your feet to breath and are easily washed and bleached. Additionally, wash socks on a regular basis, and wear each pair for a single use only.
- Bleach your shower. You’ve cleaned your shoes, cleaned your socks, and the one place left accountable for possible fungus growth is your shower. Clean the floor of your shower with a wash-down of bleach on a weekly basis. Any sponges or brushes that you may use to clean your feet in the shower should be thrown out and replaced or properly disinfected.
- Avoid sharing. Anything that might contain foot related fungi or sweat should be avoided, unless its your own. Keep your own towels, shoes, and socks to yourself and avoid borrowing those items from others.
- Foot fungus may involve both of your feet, just one foot or just a small part of your foot skin. Sometimes people with the athlete’s foot fungus have excessively smelly feet because of the fungal infection.
- Anyone can get foot fungus infections, but you’re at higher risk if you have:
- excessively sweaty feet.
- wear hot enclosed shoes that make your feet sweat
- share shoes with other people who may have athletes foot (example bowling shoes or ice skates)
- share a shower with people who may have athletes foot (like at the gym, in a fire station, or even family members with athletes foot or nail fungus)
- The athlete’s foot fungus lives on the outer layer of your skin and does not enter deeper into your body. It is the same fungal germ that causes jock itch, most nail fungus infections and ‘ring worm’ infection (not a real worm) of the scalp or body. It is highly contagious!
- Of course wear gloves and keep the bleach solution out of your eyes.
- General Foot Care Recommendations to Help Prevent You From Getting A Foot Fungus Infection
- Always wear thongs or sandals in public or communal showers like at the gym.
- Wash your feet and between your toes with soap every day. Use a wash cloth or exfoliating cloth like the Salux cloth to remove excessive dead skin that can harbor the fungus. If you use a communal shower like a gym shower, do this right before you exit the shower.
- Dry well between your toes after bathing using a towel. If you are highly susceptible to foot fungus infection you should also blow dry between your toes because the athlete’s foot fungus loves to grow between damp toes.
- Keep your toenails trimmed short so that you can keep this little space between your nail and your toe skin clean, dry and inhospitable for the fungus.
- Always wear cotton socks in closed shoes to absorb sweat and that allow your feet to stay dry.
- Wear shoes that ‘breath’, meaning don’t wear plastic/synthetic enclosed shoes made from nonporous material that prevents evaporation of sweat.
- Dust your shoes with Zeasorb AF powder if you are excessively susceptible to athlete’s foot, if you have excessively sweaty feet or if you often wear hot enclosed shoes.
- If you found this information helpful, you may also want to read some of my other posts:
- (We say “help” because the only way to truly prevent it is to live in a plastic bubble. most people are impartial to that idea.)
- Wear something on your feet in any public area that involves people walking in bare feet. Flip-flops, sandals, shoes, water socks, etc.
- Wash your feet well with soap and water after being in said areas.
Wear clean cotton socks every day. Don’t put your old socks on from the day before!
If your feet sweat a lot, keep an extra pair of socks on hand to swap out mid day or as often as you need to keep your feet dry.
Wash your cotton socks in HOT water.
Buy shoes that “breath”. Open-toed foot wear is great. Running shoes with mesh all over are good too.
Place small amounts of powder in shoes specifically made to keep shoes dry and prevent Athlete’s Foot.
Leave shoes by a heater vent or in a sunny window. Do anything to make sure they are dry the next time you wear them.
Don’t share shoes with your friends!
Top Ten Athlete’s Foot Myths
Peeing on it cures it- No
Apple Cider Vinegar- Maybe….just because it kills fungus, it does not mean that it is healthy or safe. You are essentially burning the fungus away with acidity. If you can stomach the potential skin burn then go for it. Many people say it hurts or burns not to mention the smell.
Bleach- Maybe same as above. There are many other toxic chemicals that kill fungus and mold that shouldn’t have anything to do with the human body.
Mouthwash- The theory is great because it is antibacterial but it is not antifungal. At least there are no claims as such and a mouthwash company would have no reason to make a product that you put in your mouth antifungal.
Garlic- Yes it has been shown to have antifungal properties. If you can brave the smell go for it.
People will put their feet in just about anything to stop an itch- Yes, when your feet are driving you insane with itch people will do about anything to get rid of it. These “things” might include stinking like garlic and withstanding the pain of soaking feet in acid.
If you wear flip-flops or sandals at the pool or gym you won’t get it- No, there are no guarantees about this. It will lessen the odds of contracting it but think about it this way…are flip flops going to keep your feet dry at a pool? No. The reality is that some people are just more prone to getting it than others and your best bet is to find a product that works best for you.
Baking soda or powder in shoes- No, the theory here is that it will keep your feet dry and prevent getting Athlete’s Foot and also create a dry environment that makes it difficult for Athlete’s Foot to grow in. For most people any kind of powder in your shoes just turns into grossness when you do sweat. Even then, drying an area where Athlete’s Foot is already present just delays the inevitable time when it does grow. You need to kill the fungal spores not just take away the environment they grow in.
Hope- No amount of hoping will make it go away. Praying maybe. If left untreated it may spread to your nails and that is an even more difficult problem to deal with. You will be wishing you had sorted out your Athlete’s Foot before it transferred to your nails.
Buy an over the counter product- Maybe. The problem in this is that most companies don’t advertise their research or make it available to potential customers nor explain how it works. Big pharmaceutical companies spend millions in advertising dollars marketing products that can work but also may not work very effectively. Many common creams have a 40-70% cure rate. That means 30-60% of people who buy these products are not being helped.
That’s why I enjoy covering these sorts of topics. I know as a doctor how common they are and how many patients are afraid to ask. And I hope to help. So today I’d like to cover one of those topics that make many people squirm – athlete’s foot.
What Are the Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?
Patients with athlete’s foot often describe the bottom of their feet and in between their toes as:
And sometimes when severe enough, it can even cause blisters on the feet.
The good news is that most athlete’s foot infections are easily treated and eradicated, unlike fungus on the scalp or other areas of the body which tends to be much more stubborn and difficult to get rid of. The real challenge is to prevent a re-infection once you’ve gotten rid of it. Here are my 7 Quick and Dirty Tips to fight athlete’s foot:
- Treat With Fungal Creams: Over-the-counter fungal creams, such as clotrimazole and miconazole, applied to the bottom of the feet and in between all toes for 1-4 weeks (depending on the severity of the infection) often does the trick to kill off the fungus setting up shop on your feet.
- Bleach Water Soaks: For better and faster results, I tell my patients to soak their feet in bleach water each night for 10 minutes. However, it’s important to not get carried away with the amount of bleach you mix in, as too much can actually burn your skin. I advise no more than 1 tablespoon of bleach in half a gallon of water. The soaks will help kill off the fungus.
- Air Out: During an acute bout of athlete’s foot, it’s helpful if you can let your feet air out as much as possible (without walking barefoot). Wearing open-toed shoes while your feet are recovering may be a good idea if you can tolerate it (unless it’s winter and you live on the East Coast, then I completely empathize).
- Avoid Sweats: Fungus loves moisture and heat. Keep your feet as dry as possible. If you happen to be an athlete or work out heavily, this may be more of a challenge. Pour a dash of antifungal powder on your feet before putting on your socks to help keep them dry. Carry extra pairs of socks with you, and wash your feet with soap and water and change your socks frequently if you tend to break a sweat. Change your socks at least once a day, whether or not you sweat.
- Avoid Walking Barefoot: Carry a pair of slippers with you to the gym, locker room, pool, hotels (especially the hotel showers), or any public places. And avoid walking barefoot even in your own home, whether or not you have athlete’s foot. These measures will help prevent re-infection.
- Bleach Your Socks and Shower: I also recommend that anyone inflicted with a fungal infection of the toenails or feet bleach their socks and the bottom of the shower or tub once a week routinely. Again, the real challenge lies in prevention of future outbreaks, not so much treatment.
- Treat Close Contacts: If you live with or come into direct contact with someone who has a fungal infection, encourage them to get treated right away. This way, they can’t pass it off to you or to someone else.
- Don’t forget to join the House Call Doctor’s Facebook and Twitter pages where you can read more of my health tips!
- Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.
- How you treat athlete's foot (tinea pedis) depends on its type and severity. Most cases of athlete's foot can be treated at home using an antifungal medicine to kill the fungus or slow its growth.
- Nonprescription antifungals usually are used first. These include clotrimazole (Lotrimin), miconazole (Micatin), terbinafine (Lamisil), and tolnaftate (Tinactin). Nonprescription antifungals are applied to the skin (topical medicines).
- Prescription antifungals may be tried if nonprescription medicines are not successful or if you have a severe infection. Some of these medicines are topical antifungals, which are put directly on the skin. Examples include butenafine (Mentax), clotrimazole, and naftifine (Naftin). Prescription antifungals can also be taken as a pill, which are called oral antifungals. Examples of oral antifungals include fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), and terbinafine (Lamisil).
- For severe athlete's foot that doesn't improve, your doctor may prescribe oral antifungal medicine (pills). Oral antifungal pills are used only for severe cases, because they are expensive and require periodic testing for dangerous side effects. Athlete's foot can return even after antifungal pill treatment.
- Even if your symptoms improve or stop shortly after you begin using antifungal medicine, it is important that you complete the full course of medicine. This increases the chance that athlete's foot will not return. Reinfection is common, and athlete's foot needs to be fully treated each time symptoms develop.
- Treat mild to moderate toe web infections by keeping your feet clean and dry and using nonprescription antifungal creams or lotions.
- If a severe infection develops, your doctor may prescribe a combination of topical antifungal creams plus either oral or topical antibiotic medicines.
- Moccasin-type infections
- Moccasin-type camera.gif athlete's foot causes scaly, thickened skin on the sole and heel of the foot. Often the toenails become infected (onychomycosis). A moccasin-type infection is difficult to treat, because the skin on the sole of the foot is very thick.
- Nonprescription medicines may not penetrate the thick skin of the sole well enough to cure moccasin-type athlete's foot. In this case, a prescription topical antifungal medicine that penetrates the sole, such as ketoconazole, may be used.
- Prescription oral antifungal medicines are sometimes needed to cure moccasin-type athlete's foot.
- Vesicular infections
- Vesicular camera.gif infections, or blisters, usually appear on the foot instep but can also develop between the toes, on the sole of the foot, on the top of the foot, or on the heel. This type of fungal infection may be accompanied by a bacterial infection. This is the least common type of infection.
- Treatment of vesicular infections may be done at your doctor's office or at home.
- Your doctor may remove the tops of the blisters and soak your foot until the blister area is dried out.
- You can dry out the blisters at home by soaking your foot in nonprescription Burow's solution several times a day for 3 or more days until the blister area is dried out. After the area is dried out, use a topical antifungal cream as directed. You can also apply compresses using Burow's solution.
- If you also have a bacterial infection, you will most likely need an oral antibiotic.
- If you have a severe infection, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills. After improvement, corticosteroid pills are gradually stopped, and antifungal creams and/or pills are used until the infection is gone.
- Home Health Information Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis)
- Athlete's foot is a skin infection caused by a fungus. Treatment with an antifungal cream usually works well. The tips given below may help to prevent recurrences.
- Who gets athlete's foot and how do you get it?
- Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the skin on the feet. Fungal germs (fungi) often occur in small numbers on human skin where they usually do no harm. However, if conditions are right they can invade the skin, multiply, and cause infection. The conditions fungi like best are warm, moist and airless areas of skin, such as between the toes.
- Anyone can get athlete's foot. Athlete's foot can also be passed on from person to person. For example, this may occur in communal showers used by athletes or swimmers. A tiny flake of infected skin from a person with athlete's foot can fall off whilst showering. It may then be trodden on by others who can then develop the infection. Once a small patch of infection develops, it typically spreads along the skin.
- What are the symptoms of athlete's foot?
- Athlete's Foot
- The skin between the little toes tends to be affected at first. A rash develops that becomes itchy and scaly. The skin may become cracked and sore. Tiny flakes of infected skin may fall off. The rash may spread gradually along the toes if left untreated. In some cases it spreads to the soles. Occasionally, the infection causes a scaling rash on the entire sole and side of the foot.
- Feet - getting to the root of the problem
- Is athlete's foot serious?
- Usually not. Most people treat their itchy toes before it spreads. Sometimes the infection spreads to the skin on other parts of the body. These are usually the moist and airless parts of the skin such as the groin. Fungi do not usually go deeper than the skin into the body. However, other germs (bacteria) may enter through the cracked skin of untreated athlete's foot. This can occasionally cause more serious infections of the foot or leg.
- The infection sometimes spreads to a nail. This can be treated. However, it takes several weeks of antifungal tablets to clear the infection from a nail. Therefore, it is best to treat athlete's foot as soon as symptoms start.
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- What is the treatment for athlete's foot?
- You can buy an antifungal cream from pharmacies, or get one on prescription. There are various types and brands for example: terbinafine, clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, and miconazole. These modern creams are good at clearing fungal skin infections.
- Apply the cream to the surrounding 4-6 cm of normal skin in addition to the rash.
- Apply for as long as advised. This varies between the different creams, so read the instructions carefully. Although the rash may seem to go quite quickly, you still need to apply the cream for 1-2 weeks after the rash has gone. This is to clear the fungi completely from the skin, which will prevent the rash from returning.
- For skin that is particularly inflamed, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream combined with a mild steroid cream. This would normally be used for no more than seven days. You may need to continue with an antifungal cream alone for a time afterwards. The steroid reduces inflammation and may ease itch and redness quickly. However, the steroid does not kill the fungus and so a steroid cream alone should not be used.
- An antifungal tablet is sometimes prescribed if the infection does not clear with a cream, or if the infection is severe, or if the infection is in many places on the skin in addition to the toes. For example, terbinafine, griseofulvin, or itraconazole tablets.
- Not all treatments are suitable for everyone. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, people with other conditions or who are on other medication, or children aged under 12 may not be able to use certain types of treatment. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you come into one of these groups.
- You do not need to stay away from work, school or sports. However, try to keep your feet covered in communal changing areas until the rash is gone. Also, try not to scratch the affected skin, as this may spread infection to other sites.
- The following tips may prevent athlete's foot recurring
- Wash your feet daily, and dry the skin between your toes thoroughly after washing. This is perhaps the most important point. It is tempting to put socks on when your feet are not quite dry. The soggy skin between the toes is then ideal for fungi to grow.
- Do not share towels in communal changing rooms. Wash towels frequently.
- Change your socks daily. Fungi may multiply in flakes of skin in unwashed socks. Cotton socks and leather footwear are probably better than nylon socks and plastic footwear, which increase sweating.
- Ideally, alternate between different shoes every 2-3 days to allow each pair to dry out fully after being worn.
- Ideally, wear flip-flops or plastic sandals in communal changing rooms and showers. This prevents the soles of your feet coming into contact with the ground, which may contain flakes of skin from other people.
- Ideally, when at home, leave your shoes and socks off as much as possible to let the air get to your feet. However, this may not be practical for some people.
- Use over the counter medications for mild cases of athlete's foot. Lotrimin and Tinactin are both great over the counter medications for treating athlete's foot. You will need to use these medications exactly as directed on packaging for them to be useful.
- Soak your feet in vinegar. It's a great, inexpensive, natural remedy for athlete's foot and helps with even some of the worst cases. The acidity of vinegar helps kill the fungus and lower the levels of alkaline found on your skin, which enable athlete's foot fungi to grow.
- Try some essential oils, like lavender and peppermint. They are also helpful in ridding your feet of athlete's foot. Remember that you should use all essential oils sparingly though, and never ingest them. Check out this Discovery Health page for more detailed instructions on using aromatherapy to cure athlete's foot.
- Consider a misdiagnoses. If you've tried all of these remedies and are still fighting against a sore, itchy rash, now might be the time to realized you've been treating the wrong fungus. Yeast infections of the skin are almost identically to athlete's foot fungi, but require different treatment. Monistat creams or plain yogurt are almost always successful in curing yeast infections, just smother them on and let your feet rest for a while.
- Soak or wash your socks in vinegar, and using a cloth dampened with vinegar wipe down the insides of your shoes each night.
- Buy breathable shoes and make sure they are dry every morning before you put them on.
- Stick with treatment daily until the fungus is gone, and for a few days afterwards.
- Use a powder like Gold Bond or Pure Cornstarch Baby powder in your shoes to help soak up excess moisture and keep your feet dry.
- Keep your feet, socks, and shoes dry.
- If you shower at the pool or gym, always keep the soles of your feet covered by wearing a pair of flip flops or other pool shoes. Community showers are one of the worst breeding grounds for athlete's foot.
- The same fungus that causes athlete's foot also causes ringworm and jock itch. These pesky fungi can all be dealt with in the same way.
- In extremely bad cases of athlete's foot, the sufferer may also have jock itch or ring worm, treat ALL infected areas.