Athlete's Foot

What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete's foot, known medically as tinea pedis, is a common skin infection of the feet caused by fungus. Signs and symptoms often include itching, scaling, and redness. In rare cases the skin may blister. Athlete's foot fungus may infect any part of the foot, but most often grows between the toes. The next most common area is the bottom of the foot. The same fungus may also affect the nails or the hands. It is a member of the group of diseases known as tinea.

Athlete's foot is caused by a number of different fungi. These include species of Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum. The condition is typically acquired by coming into contact with infected skin, or fungus in the environment. Common places where the fungi can survive are around swimming pools and in locker rooms. They may also be spread from other animals. Usually diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms; however, it can be confirmed either by culture or seeing hyphae using a microscope.

Some methods of prevention include avoiding walking barefoot in public showers, keeping the toenails short, wearing big enough shoes, and changing socks daily. When infected, the feet should be kept dry and clean and wearing sandals may help. 


Common Signs & Symptoms 

The most common symptoms of athlete’s foot include: 

  • Itching, stinging and burning in and around the toes and on the soles of the feet
  • Cracked, torn or flaky, dry skin most commonly between the toes and on the soles
  • Blisters on the feet that itch - less common - caused by moccasin feet (see picture)
  • Raw skin on the feet
  • Feet smell really bad
  • Discoloured, thick and crumbly toenails
  • Toenails that pull away from the nail bed

Home Remedies For Athlete’s Foot

1. Wash, Dry & Protect Your Feet

  • Practice good hygiene and protect your feet from cracks or flaking.
  • Keep your feet dry as moisture can allow the growth of bacteria or fungus.
  • Moisturise skin regularly as over-dryness is also problematic.
  • Make sure that once you leave a damp environment that you wash and dry your feet.  Shared surfaces such as gym showers etc is an ideal breeding ground so make sure to wear shower shoes or wash, dry and moisturise your feet when you get home.

2. Homemade Anti-fungal Cream or Powder

Mainstream doctors will provide you with a prescription for an anti-fungal cream.  However, there are many home-made and natural anti-fungal cream remedies that are just as effective.  Homemade treatments for athlete’s foot, or similar fungal infections, are usually made with concentrated active ingredients found in some essential oils.

Some of these essential oils are:

  • oregano
  • tea tree
  • dill
  • clove
  • cinnamon
  • frankincense
  • olive leaf.

These home-made ointments/creams have a low risk for the kinds of side effects that are usually associated with certain prescription drug ingredients. Many natural anti-fungal cures have been used for centuries, such as herbs and plant compounds used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine.  Use a combination of at least two essential oils to help get rid of fungus. For more information on essential oils, follow this link.

Select the essential oils and mix at least a total of 5 to 6 drops with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, and mix well.  Place this mixture in a glass container with a lid.  When applying, do not dip your fingers directly into the jar, but remove a small amount with a spoon or make-up spatula.  apply to the affected area at least 3 to 4 times daily.  Make sure that you are using high-quality therapeutic grade essential oils, such as Jean Southey Essential oils , which are available in South Africa.

3. Improve Immune Function Through Your Diet & Lifestyle

A weakened immune system corresponds with a higher risk for fungal infections, as well as numerous other “common” illnesses. Factors that can weaken your body’s ability to control the growth of fungus or other microbes include:

  • A poor diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • High amounts of stress
  • Toxicity due to things like smoking, drug use or exposure to chemicals and pollution
  • Having a health condition like an autoimmune disorder, diabetes or those that lower blood flow
  • Using antibiotics or hormone replacement drugs often, which can throw off the delicate balance of bacteria living in your gut

How To Improve Immune Function

  • Add probiotic foods to your diet
  • Eat garlic. 
  • Remove/reduce processed food intake. 
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise is linked with improved immunity, better circulation, lower stress, better sleep and much more.
  • Get enough rest & sleep: Your body restores its strength and brings you back to balance while you sleep each night. Aim for 7-9 hours per night.

Precautions When Treating Athlete’s Foot or Other Fungal Infections

Most of the essential oils described above are classified as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), nevertheless, one can still have an allergic reaction or other sensitivities, especially if you have sensitive skin or are experiencing changes in hormone levels or your immune system.

  • Test the effects by using only a small amount for the first time.
  • If  you are breast-feeding or are pregnant, first confirm with your doctor if you can use these oils

Picture credits:

Moccasin Athlete's Foot
Moccasin Athlete's Foot