You don’t have to be an athlete to get athletes foot. Officially known as “tinea pedis,” this uncomfortable condition is a fungal infection that typically causes itchiness between and around toes, scaly or cracked/peeling patches of skin, dryness on the bottoms or sides of feet, and thick, ragged, and/or discolored toenails. More likely to affect men than women, it thrives in a damp environment, and thick, tight, shoes. When your toes are pressed together (usually by shoes) it creates a warm moist area between them that is extremely appealing to the mold-like fungi that causes athletes foot. To sum it up…it’s very unpleasant to deal with. To help you feel comfortable kicking off your socks, and to spare you chemical-laden creams, here are some natural ways to let fungus know it’s not welcome on your feet.
1. Rub on cornstarch
Cornstarch absorbs moisture like nobody’s business. If you brown the cornstarch first so much the better, as that sucks out any moisture that may have been present in it before.
You will need…
-Roughly ½ cup cornstarch
-A clean soft towel
-An oven or stovetop (optional)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Pour a ½ cup of cornstarch, or enough to cover both of your feet when rubbed on, onto a plate and pop in the preheated oven. Bake for only a few minutes, or until it takes on a light brownish color. If you prefer you can pour some cornstarch into a small cooking pot and heat on a stovetop BREIFLY and stirring constantly until it browns slightly. Always keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. Rub the cornstarch onto your feet and toes. Leave on for 5-10 minutes, and brush off with a clean towel. Wash your hands after applying and after brushing off.
2. Let ‘em breathe!
The key is to remember that a warm, moist, environment attracts fungi. Go barefoot when you’re not in a moist environment, and if possible when going out where sandals or open-toed shoes. You may not be keen on the idea of flaunting your feet if they look less-than-appealing, but it may be worth it if it means healing them up faster.
3. Use a PVPI soak
Povidone-iodine (PVPI) is more commonly known by its main brand name, Betadine. It is a chemical complex used to treat and prevent infection in wounds. It is also used for the prevention of treatment of skin infections, and is an effective bactericide. Expanding from that, it is helpful to combat yeasts, molds, and fungi, among other things. The key word here is fungi-like the kind causing your athletes foot. Soaking your feet in Betadine can help get rid of it.
Note: If you are pregnant, do not attempt this remedy.
You will need…
-Poviodone-iodine (or PVPI)
-A large bowl or basin
Fill a bowl or basin large enough to comfortably soak your feet with one quart of warm water, and add 2 capfuls of PVPI into it. Soak your feet 2 times day for 20 minutes each (a total of 40 minutes a day) and make sure to dry them completely afterwards.
4. Dunk them in hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is ideal for killing off bacteria and fungus, so soaking your feet in it can help clear up the little buggers that are making you so dang uncomfortable. It will also help with any fungus that may be clinging around or under your nail as well. Just remember that it can sting, and this may be especially true if you have cracked skin.
You will need…
-1 pint 3% hydrogen peroxide
-1 gallon of clean, distilled water
-Spray bottle (optional)
Mix one pint of 3% hydrogen peroxide into 1 gallon of clean, lukewarm water. Soak for 20-30 minutes morning and night daily as needed to clear up your athletes foot. Let air dry or rinse off and dry completely. Make sure you’re using 3% hydrogen peroxide (food grade) which is mainly what is sold in stores. More concentrated forms don’t equal wiping out the fungus any faster and may be harmful to the skin. In fact, 90% hydrogen peroxide is used to produce rocket fuel, which is not what you want on your feet!
5. Simply soap & dry
Hygiene plays a large part in whether or not you get athletes foot, as does drying them off afterwards. Washing your feet daily helps rid your skin of fungus, while drying it thoroughly ensures that it won’t come back or worsen.
You will need…
-Plain old hand soap
Twice a day thoroughly wash your feet with soap and water, making sure to get between your toes. When you’re done, dry them off. Moist means fungus. Use a soft clean towel, and again, get between your toes. Because athletes foot is contagious don’t use the same towel, or make sure it’s been washed in extra-hot water after every use. If your feet stubbornly want to stay damp you can try gently drying them with a hairdryer, which can get rid of that little bit of wetness the towel couldn’t. Make sure it is on the “warm” or even “cold” setting, and don’t overdo it.
6. Soda for your shoes
Baking soda kills bacteria and works well as an antifungal agent. Sprinkle some in your shoes after wearing them, or create a paste and rub onto your feet.
You will need…
-3 parts baking soda
-1 part cool water
Wash your feet with water and dry completely. Mix 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, or until a thick paste forms. Rub onto your feet in a gentle circular motion, being sure to get between your toes. Let it dry and slough mostly off. Run your feet under cool water and make sure to dry them completely again.
7. Spread the word, not the ‘foot
Athletes foot is contagious and if you have it, you know how unpleasant it is. Keep it from spreading to others, or from spreading it back to yourself, by following some simple suggestions.
-Wash your hands with soap and water after coming in contact with an infected area
-After bathing wash out the tub or shower with an antiseptic cleaner
-Don’t share towels, and keep all towels and linens clean
-If you are going to be using a public shower, wear sandals
-Wash your socks in extra-hot water, and never re-wear the same pair of socks without out washing them first.
-Alternate your shoes every other day. If your feet have been in a pair, the fungus is in there too. Treat them with an antiseptic spray. If your feet sweat a lot, swap out pairs multiple times a day.
8. Lemon rinse for odor
Rinsing your feet with a lemon juice/ water mixture can help minimize any odor or unpleasant smell that your feet may be emitting as a result of athletes foot.
You will need…
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-10 cups of tepid water
Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes once or twice a day to minimize odor.
Feet are important, to make an understatement. We use them a lot and if they aren’t comfortable, it’s almost a guarantee you won’t be comfortable either. Not to mention that-even if they weren’t all that important- there are few things more infuriating than when they itch inside your shoe. Then you either have to stomp on your own foot to relieve the itch, or pull your whole shoe off. To maintain your sanity, and feel better, remember that a little bit of daily dedication with simple home remedies can be enough to help you put your best foot forward (and keep your shoe on.)
You may also like our list of the best remedies for acne & blemishes
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