What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a skin condition commonly associated with stinky, sweaty feet and gym locker rooms. However, despite it’s name, it doesn’t just affect athletes.
Athlete’s foot is characterized by:
Itching or a burning sensation on the feet, soles of the feet or between the toes
Thick, red, scaly, raw, or cracking skin on the feet/toes
Peeling skin on the feet/toes
What causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is actually caused by a common fungus named tinea pedis that thrives in warm humid conditions, like the spaces between your toes.
The bacteria grow in the warm, damp environment created by your feet, which is often enhanced by the sweaty environment of wearing shoes and socks, making the perfect place for athlete’s foot to grow. In fact, the name ‘Athlete’s foot’ came about since the fungus thrives in the moist areas where athletes tend to be, like locker rooms, public showers, changing rooms and pools.
Common causes include:
- The tinea pedis fungus is commonly spread by going barefoot in areas that provide the perfect conditions for the fungus. These are damp public places such as swimming pools, public shower rooms and sports changing rooms. Since the fungus is contagious, it is therefore easy to catch when you come into contact with infected people or items.
- It can also be spread in your own home from the shower floor and even sharing infected towels.
- Wearing tight, damp shoes and/or socks, and not changing your socks regularly is another cause. The warm, moist environment is like a breeding ground for them!
How To Treat Athletes’ Foot Naturally
No. 1 – Apple Cider Vinegar Remedy
Vinegar is known to be especially beneficial against yeast and fungus, and one of the best natural remedies for athlete’s foot.
The vinegar will create an acidic environment that the foot fungus does not like, since the acetic acid in vinegar kills the fungus and soothes itching. Plus, vinegar can also be used as a sock soak to kill any bacteria lurking on them too.
Find a container/bucket of some kind big enough to put your feet into.
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
Optional: 5 drops of tea tree oil
To use: Soak your feet for 15 minutes twice a day (or half an hour if you don’t have 15 minutes spare on both sides of the day). Make sure to thoroughly dry your feet afterwards. Repeat this process until the infection is gone.
You can also apply vinegar directly to the infection with a cotton ball, but it’s probably best to dilute it slightly since it will sting!
Vinegar Sock Wash
Add a cup of white vinegar to your wash loads, and wash on the hottest setting to kill any fungus that’s present on your socks. You can also throw in towels you’ve used or any suspected infected towels.
No. 2 – Salt Remedy
Similar to the above method, but with salt. Salt creates an unpleasant environment for the fungus since it has strong antibacterial and anti fungal properties.
Find a container/bucket of some kind big enough to put your feet into.
2 teaspoons of salt per 2 cups (or roughly 500ml) of warm water
To use: Again, do this for 15 twice a day or 30 minutes once a day and repeat until the problem clears up.
No. 3 – Anti-Fungal Spray
There are several of ways to do this so I will just list a couple. These are great to use when you’re going to and coming back from a visit to a public pool, the gym, a long foot-sweat-inducing walk or simply as a preventative.
Vodka and Tea Tree Spray
¼ cup Vodka (works as an antiseptic which kills bacteria).
3 or 4 drops of Tea Tree Oil (a potent antibacterial and anti fungal).
Add to a glass spray bottle and ta-da – it’s done.
To use: Spray onto bottom of your feet and in between toes. Allow to air dry before putting socks or shoes on.
Witch Hazel Spray
You can combine an anti-fungal essential oil such as tea tree (very well known for combating athletes food), lavender, eucalyptus, oregano, rosemary, geranium or thyme, with witch hazel to create a cleansing, healing astringent.
Simply get a small spray bottle and combine:
¼ cup witch hazel (or less, depending how much you want to make)
3-4 drops of your chosen essential oil
To use: Spray this onto your feet/toes and allow to air dry. Another option is to apply this straight with a cotton ball.
Alternatively you can make a 1:1:1 ratio of witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and aloe vera plus the essential oil and add to a spray bottle.
Use this as often as you wish until the infection is gone. You can also use it as a preventative.
We also stock aloe vera gel with tea tree that you could use alone, or combine with the above recipe.
No. 4 – Anti fungal Powder
The power of baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda) and cornstarch come into their own here. Both of these deprive the fungus of the moisture it craves to grow and spread.
Baking Soda makes for a wonderfully effective foot powder, but also a shoe deodorizer too. Since baking soda is alkaline, the acidic sweat is neutralized and the fungal and bacterial spores will not be able to grow.
Corn Starch (or Arrowroot Powder) is an exceedingly absorbent powder that absorbs moisture, especially that which is left behind by your sweaty feet! A dry environment is a great preventative and treatment since it is much less friendly to bacteria and fungus.
Anti-fungal Foot Powder
Choose your combination of antibacterial/antifungal essential oils, such as
Tea Tree Oil + Eucalyptus Oil + Peppermint Oil
Lavender + Peppermint + Eucalyptus
Tea Tree + Lavender
To make, simply mix the following ingredients together in a shaker jar:
½ cup cornstarch/arrowroot powder
¼ cup baking soda
Then your choice of essential oils.
5-15 drops Tea Tree Oil
5 -15 drops Eucalyptus Oil
5- 10 drops Peppermint Oil
You’re aiming for a max of roughly 30 drops in total of essential oil.
To use: Apply this powder to your feet and in between toes. Store in an airtight container, or a shaker jar that can be closed off from air as this works really well for this.
You can also use it to sprinkle into shoes when you remove them to absorb moisture overnight and to eliminate odour.
Alternatively, try Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Foot Powder to keep feet dry, sweat and odour free.
No. 5 – The Tea Tree Quickie
This is a really simple way to get some antibacterial, antifungal action happening if you spot athletes foot but don’t have enough time at that moment to make a nice concoction, or take a foot bath.
Simply drop 5 drops of Almond Oil/Jojoba/Coconut/Olive oil onto a cotton ball then add 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil.
To use: Gently wipe the cotton ball on and around the affected area.
Try to do this at least twice daily, changing your socks in between.
No. 6 – Check Your Diet
Since athlete’s foot is an infection, and our immune systems are responsible for fighting off infections, it’s also a good idea to look into your diet and make sure that what you’re doing is supportive to a healthy gut and immune system.
Since gut health affects our overall health, and especially immune health, it’s always a good idea to support it fully. When our guts are imbalanced, our immune systems become weakened, and we become susceptible to infections. If you are suffering from colds, flus and athlete’s foot regularly, you may be in need of some tender loving gut health care.
So, as always, my advice here would be to drink plenty of water, eat your veggies, whack up your probiotic intake, avoid refined sugar and bring a focus to consuming nourishing foods containing natural antifungals like garlic, onions, oregano and healing foods like sauerkraut and broths.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot Naturally
Prevention is the best remedy to avoid getting Athlete’s foot in the first place, but these methods are also good for treating it if you have it, and also helping to stop reinfection.
Here are some ways to reduce the chances of athlete’s foot:
- Wear some kind of foot protection like flip flops when you’re in wet public places, if possible.
- Dry your feet thoroughly after a shower/bath or coming out of the pool. Concentrate especially between the toes as this is where the bacteria LOVE.
- Use the foot powder mentioned above daily to keep your feet and toes dry, or simply sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch into your socks/over your feet before putting on your socks. This will help absorb moisture during the day, and as we know, a moist environment in your socks and shoes encourages foot fungus to grow.
- Use separate towels to someone you know is infected and wash towels after they’ve been used in a public place.
- Choose proper shoes and socks. Avoid plastic shoes and non-breathable materials as they trap perspiration and create a warm, moist environment for the fungus to grow. Chose natural fibres when possible. Change your socks twice or three times a day if you have very sweaty feet.
- Change your shoes often. If possible, try not to wear the same shoes two days in a row, especially if your feet are very sweaty.
This gives your shoes a chance to thoroughly dry out over at least 24 hours.
You can also air them out, leave them in the sun during sunny days to kill any fungus that’s inside them and clean undersides of straps after wearing to reduce/remove infectious skin particles and help prevent reinfection.
If you must wear the same shoes daily, I would advise that you sprinkle a small amount of baking soda or cornstarch in them at night to absorb the moisture. Then in the morning, tap it out and you’re good to go.
You can also clean your shoes with the foot spray or a general a mix of roughly ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup vodka, plus 10-15 drops of your chosen anti fungal essential oil, such as tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint etc. into a spray bottle and spritz spritz.
- Spend some time barefoot if you have athlete’s foot. Socks can trap moisture and you want to give feet a chance to dry out.
And there we have it! Our Natural Remedies to Prevent and Treat Athlete’s Foot. I hope this blog post has and will help you out should you be suffering from the itchiness of athlete’s foot. Good luck and happy healing 🙂
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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention.
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication.