Natural Remedies to Treat Athlete’s Foot (Part 1)

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What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is a skin condition commonly associated with stinky, sweaty feet and gym locker rooms. However, despite its 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
  • Blisters
athlete's foot causes

What causes Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is caused by a common fungus named tinea pedis. This fungus 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. This makes 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

treatment for athlete's foot

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. Additionally, vinegar can also be used as a sock soak to kill any bacteria lurking on them too.

Foot Soak

Find a container/bucket of some kind big enough to put your feet into.

Mix together:

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.

salt remedy for athlete's foot

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 antifungal properties.

Find a container/bucket of some kind big enough to put your feet into.

Mix together:

  • 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.

antifungal spray for athlete's foot

No. 3 – Anti-Fungal Spray

There are several 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 place. For example a public pool, the gym, a long foot-sweat-inducing walk or simply as a preventative.

Vodka and Tea Tree Spray

Mix together:

  • ¼ cup Vodka (works as an antiseptic which kills bacteria).
  • 3 or 4 drops of Tea Tree Oil (a potent antibacterial and antifungal).

Add to a glass spray bottle and ta-da – it’s done.

To use: 

Spray onto the bottom of your feet and in between toes. Allow to air dry before putting socks or shoes on.

witch hazel

Witch Hazel Spray

You can combine an anti-fungal essential oil such as:

  • tea tree (very well known for combating athlete’s foot)
  • lavender
  • eucalyptus
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • geranium
  • or thyme with witch hazel to create a cleansing, healing astringent.

Mix together:

Simply get a small spray bottle and combine:

  • ¼ cup witch hazel (or less, depending on 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.

Use this as often as you wish until the infection is gone. You can also use it as a preventative.

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.

We also stock aloe vera gel with tea tree that you could use alone, or combine with the above recipe.

antifungal powder for athlete's foot

No. 4 – Antifungal 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 is wonderfully effective as 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

Etc. Etc.

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.

For example:

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. Alternatively, use a shaker jar that can be closed off from air as this works really well for this.

You can also use it to sprinkle this powder into shoes when you remove them. This helps to absorb moisture overnight and to eliminate odour.

Alternatively, try Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Foot Powder to keep feet dry, sweat and odour free.

tea tree oil for athlete's foot

No. 5 – The Tea Tree Quickie

This is a really simple way to get some antibacterial, antifungal action happening. Especially if you spot athletes foot but don’t have enough time at that moment to make a nice concoction, or take a foot bath.

To make:

Simply drop 5 drops of either 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.

fermented foods to support immune system

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. You want to make sure that what you’re doing is supportive of 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. As a result, 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
  • bring a focus to consuming nourishing foods containing natural antifungals like garlic, onions and oregano
  • eat healing foods like sauerkraut and broths.
  • check out my Candida Overgrowth series to learn more about tackling fungal overgrowth through diet, lifestyle and supplement changes.

And there we have it for Natural Remedies to 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.
If you’re looking for natural ways to prevent athlete’s foot, or reinfection, check out part two here.

Good luck and happy healing 🙂

Emily Nöth

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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.