The most common fungal infection of the skin, athlete's foot typically begins
between the toes, causing itching, scaling, and sometimes painful breaks in the
skin. This generally harmless but unusually pesky condition may be relieved with
various natural remedies
- Scaling and peeling between the toes. In severe cases, there may be cracks between the toes.
- Redness, itching, scaling, and tiny blisters along the sides and soles of the feet.
- Soft and painful skin.
- Infected toenails that can become thickened, discolored, or crumbly.
When to call the doctor
- If there's no improvement in a week to 10 days after starting treatment with supplements.
- If home treatment does not provide a complete cure within four weeks.
- If any area becomes red and swollen, a sign of a more serious bacterial infection.
- Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements
What is it
"Athlete's foot" is the common term for a fungal infection called tinea pedis. The fungi that cause it are tiny, plantlike cells found on the skin of all humans. They can multiply out of control under certain conditions. The fungi thrive in cramped, damp places, such as inside shoes and socks. In some people, athlete's foot occurs entirely between the toes, where the skin cracks, peels, and becomes scaly. In others, the infection appears on the soles and sides of the feet or affects the toenails.
What causes it: The most common fungi causing athlete's foot are called Trichophytons. Though poorly ventilated shoes and sweaty socks provide an excellent breeding ground for the fungi, athlete's foot is not highly contagious, so walking barefoot in a locker room does not increase your risk.
How supplements can help: Many doctors prescribe conventional antifungal medications for persistent cases of athlete's foot. These drugs can be very effective -- and very costly. For the most stubborn cases of athlete's foot, some doctors are recommending the new oral prescription drug itraconazole, but it can cause liver damage. For milder cases, supplements can be an inexpensive way to combat this infection; symptoms should begin to clear up within a week. Supplements may be useful for other types of fungal skin infections as well. Jock itch, for
example, is caused by the same type of fungus responsible for most cases of athlete's foot, and the two
conditions often occur together. Topical treatments can be applied to the groin area twice a day.
Vitamin C, an antioxidant, promotes immune function and aids the body in fighting fungal infections. It can
be taken while using any of the topical supplements listed below.
Tea tree oil, a powerful natural antifungal agent, alters the chemical environment of the skin, making it
inhospitable to fungal growth. Effective topical preparations include creams or lotions containing tea tree oil;
look for products that contain tea tree oil as one of the top ingredients, or make your own by adding two
parts tea tree oil to three parts of a neutral oil, such as almond oil. For an antifungal foot bath, add 20 drops
of tea tree oil to a small tub of warm water; soak your feet for 15 minutes two or three times a day. Dry the
feet well and dab a few drops of undiluted tea tree oil on the affected areas. If pure tea tree oil irritates your
skin, use one of the topical preparations described below.
Rub garlic oil directly onto the affected areas. Garlic contains a natural fungus-fighting substance called
allicin that can help to clear up athlete's foot. You can also try dusting your feet with garlic powder. Derived
from a golden daisy like flower, calendula is another useful option. Widely available in health-food stores, this
herb relieves inflammation and soothes the skin, which promotes healing.
Supplement Recommendations ( Consult your Doctor before any usage)
Tea Tree Oil
Dosage: 1,000 mg twice a day.
Comments: Long-term use may prevent recurrences; reduce dose if diarrhea develops.
Tea Tree Oil
Dosage: Apply to affected areas of skin twice a day.
Comments: Never ingest tea tree oil.
Dosage: Apply oil to affected areas of skin twice a day.
Comments: Can be used in place of tea tree oil.
Dosage: Apply cream or lotion to affected areas twice a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 2% calendula.Just as our psyches need regular doses of tender loving care, so do our feet. Yet people tend to neglect this
part of the anatomy, notes Arnold Ravick, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Washington, D.C., and member of the
Public Affairs Committee of the American Podiatric Medical Association. "People tell me that their feet have
always caused them pain and that they always will," says Ravick. "But that doesn't have to be true."
To pamper your feet at the end of the day, treat them to a little warmth. "Either soak them or use a heating
pad," Ravick recommends. "The type of heat doesn't matter." If you soak your feet, put a few drops of baby
oil in the water so your skin doesn't dry out. Then blot them with a towel, rather than rubbing. Finish up by
applying some skin lotion. To leave your feet feeling really relaxed, massage them gently for 5 or 10 minutes
by moving the joints and muscles around between your fingers.