Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedi, is caused by fungal infection that affects the upper layers of the foot’s skin. A type of fungus called Trichophyton causes the condition. Trichophyton is commonly found on floors and clothing.
However, this type of fungus does not affect the body unless the conditions are conducive for it to thrive. In order for Trichophyton to thrive and affect the skin, a warm, moist environment is required. Only about 0.75% of people who walk barefoot on floors teeming with Trichophyton will be affected by athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s Foot: Signs and Symptoms
Athlete’s foot usually develops between the gaps of our toes, occasionally spreading to other parts of the feet. The symptoms include feeling a burning, itching, or stinging sensation between the toes. Itching, followed by rashes could develop between the toes. The skin between the toes could turn dry, flaky, and inflamed.
In severe cases, athlete’s foot could also affect the toenails, soles, and the sides of the feet. Skin may also crack; sticky liquid will ooze between the crusted skins. Blisters and swelling would also develop.
Treating Athlete’s Foot
If left untreated, athlete’s foot could spread infection from the toes to the entire feet, causing swelling, intense itching, and inflammation that would make walking difficult.
There are different ways to treat athlete’s foot like over-the-counter (OTC) anti-fungal medication, natural treatments, and self-care. According to UK’s National Health Service, the best way to treat athlete’s foot is through self-care and medication. However, in severe cases of athlete’s foot, it’s best to seek a powerful anti-fungal medication prescribed by your physician.
Most over-the-counter medications for athlete’s foot are available at your local pharmacy; they come in many forms including tablet, topical creams, or sprays. Most prescribed anti-fungal medications are taken orally. The most common OTC antifungal medications include clotrimazole, ketoconazole, terbinafine, and sulconazole.
Natural treatments for athlete’s foot usually include topical oil extracts or foot soaks infused with herbs or essential oils with anti-fungal and anti-inflammation properties like tea tree, grapefruit seed extracts, or increasing garlic consumption in food.
Tea tree oil, which is a popular spot-on treatment for acne, contains potent anti-fungal and anti-inflammation properties. Extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, tea tree is clinically proven to work just as well as any topical medication for athlete’s foot! Just lightly coat the affected area with tea tree oil three times a day until the infection clears. You can also add tea tree oil in foot soaks to treat athlete’s foot.
Grapefruit extracts, which is available in most health food stores, also offer significant anti-fungal properties. Make sure you are buying pure, undiluted grapefruit extract to take advantage of its full strength.
Garlic is renowned for its powerful antifungal properties. By increasing your intake of garlic—and even lightly spreading minced garlic mixed with extra virgin olive oil over the affected area—infection is bound to clear up within days.
If you’re suffering from athlete’s foot, you want to wash your feet with soap and water thoroughly to minimize flare-ups. In addition, make sure to thoroughly dry your feet each time you wash it. Wear socks to protect it from irritants and change shoes and socks often. Finally, do not share your towels with other people to avoid the infection from spreading.