8 Ways to Treat & Avoid Athlete’s Foot

athlete's footYou 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.

8 Remedies for Athlete's Foot- to get rid of the stink & itch.

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
-Warm water
-Mild soap
-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.

Cornstarch Athlete's Foot Cream

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
-Warm water
-Clean towel
-Hairdryer (optional)

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!

Hydrogen Peroxide Treatment for Athlete's Foot

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
-Hairdryer (optional)

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

We Want to Hear from You! Let us know which remedies work and do not work for you, ask a question or leave a comment:


  1. Mike says:

    Definitely let them breathe. The more your feet are stuck in a shoe, the worse it will get. If you need to, wear footwear that is more open, like Birkenstocks or Crocs.

  2. Robin says:

    Tea tree oil takes care of athletes foot…just put some on a qtip and apply between the toes. Bye bye fungus.

    • heather says:

      Do you put just tea tree oil on a q-tip or do you mix it with something? Will this work with athletes foot that has spread into the toe nails?

  3. MyDarlin says:

    What about apple cider vinegar? This is an easy remedy that has worked for me.

  4. mary says:

    a decoction of oak bark/leaves works really well for this. also garlic mashed in olive oil and worn overnight inside of a sock!

  5. Shana says:

    I suffer from athletes foot and it is frustrating beyond belief. One thing that has worked for me is to soak or rub with a clean cotton ball, that gold shade of Listerine mouth wash. Also, soaking just your toes in a clean small plastic container of some type is great. About 5 minutes to soak, and then let your toes air dry. Then rinse out the tub you’ve been using very well.
    I know how miserable this stuff can be-my feet look so awful! All I did was try on a pair of used shoes one time, barefoot and that did it. I had no idea that I could get AF from something like that! Grrrrr……..
    Let’s just say Fred Flinstone has better looking feet then me!

  6. Shana says:

    Also tea tree oil is fantastic for AF. Just make sure you don’t use it full strength. Make sure to dilute it. It also works on any scalp itches, bumps, or any crusty issues. Scalp zits why they happen in that area I have no dang idea, or what even causes them- but tea tree oil diluted and massaged into the scalp daily works. Maybe let it sit on the scalp for 2-3 minutes, then wash. Paul MItchell make a fantastic tea tree shampoo and conditioner. However, it’s super important to look at what the ingredients are in your shampoo. Any time you see the “sodium laurel sulfate” listed, any kind, that is evil stuff. It pretty much just coats the hair in wax. It also makes a lot of the foam. It strips the hair in the worst way. I strongly suggest getting a shampoo and/or conditioner from your local organic store. Your scalp will thank you

  7. Lisa H says:

    Don’t take athletes foot lightly. Treat it right away. If you’re prone to it do everything you can to keep it at bay. I’ve been fighting a staph and a strep infection in my foot for the last two months. It took over really fast. Just scratching it could break it open enough to allow the germs in.

  8. Jessie says:

    If you have athlete’s foot on you toe, wrapping some copper wire (available at DIY shops) around the infected toe works really well for lots of people. A copper toe ring will do just as well! xx

  9. Jessie says:

    Also a touch of diluted mouthwash on a cotton bud will help.

  10. Caitlin says:

    Thank y’all so much! It’s been getting better and I can finally sit on my couch with no socks on without someone saying umm what’s on your foot..?

  11. Alex says:

    My AF went under skin. I’ve been on itraconazole for two months and used all creams with no effect at all. I managed to keep feet clean by blowing on the affected skin with a hot fan. 5 minutes a day on each spot will completely clean it in just few days, but then it would come back if I don’t do it daily.
    I managed to get rid of it in few spots by applying small pieces of towel inside socks soaked with synthetic vinegar overnight. But my feet would look like shit after this. I am now thinking what to do next….

  12. Julieann says:

    Hi my name is Julieann if I put my shoes in the freezer will this kill the af fungus cause they are leather and can’t wash them

  13. graham says:

    i know this sounds gross however the best cure for athletes foot is urine.
    i suffered a bad case once and a friend who was an ex soldier suggested it after i tried all sorts. it took a couple of days only although i continued for a week to ensure the infection was gone. i would urinate on the foot whilst having my morning shower , wash then dry thoroughly, 2 days later no itching, 1 week later no sign of infection.
    i know it is gross but it does work

  14. Deanna says:

    Pure coconut oil rubbed on the areas after being washed helps with any odor too! And it helps with cracked, dry skin. 😉

  15. Pauline says:

    Used lavender oil, fungus was gone the next day.

  16. Nathan Johnson says:

    Great article for dealing with athlete’s foot! My am a runner and have recently started to get symptoms that look like athlete’s foot. It is not too bad, yet, so I am hoping to get a jump on this and prevent any more problems. I like all of your ideas, but I especially like your idea to simply wash and dry. My problem is that I wear shoes all day long. Thanks for the ideas!

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