First Aid Refreshers, part 7: Athlete’s Foot

February 29, 2012

First Aid, Frontier Medicine

athlete's foot

Our feet are so taken for granted.  They carry us from place to place, support us for long hours of standing, and endure many a painful fashion statement, yet most of the time they do so without major complaint.  When one does get injured, boy are we ever aware of it, though.  On the whole, we should be giving our feet more consideration, but I want to occasionally go over some common foot ailments or injuries and possibilities for treating them.  We’ll start with the most common fungal skin infection.

Athlete’s Foot

Though the common name for this problem suggests it only plagues those who make their living in the sport’s field, that isn’t the case at all.  Rather than being an injury sustained in a ball game or a condition caused by long hours of practice, this really refers to a fungal infection of the skin.  It is related to “jock itch” and “ringworm.”

It often starts between the toes and spreads after the foot has come in contact with the fungus.  The warm, moist, dark environment of the shoes creates an ideal breeding environment for the infection to proliferate.  The fungus causes bothersome itching, scaling/peeling, redness, and rarely small blisters.

Treating the Problem

Since the fungus needs a particular environment to thrive, the first thing you should try to do is change that.  Wear socks made of natural fibers that will help moisture evaporate.  If possible, change socks frequently to keep the feet dry.  Try to switch to better ventilated shoes.

Dusting the affected parts with powder (especially medicated anti-fungal types), cornstarch, or baking soda may help keep the area dry and thwart the growth of the fungus.  One doctor recommended creating a paste of baking soda and a little water, applying it to the affected area, and allowing it to dry on the skin.  Then rinse the dried paste off and dry feet well.

Depending on how you feel about traditional antiperspirant (the kind with aluminum chlorohydrate in it), you could try applying it to the affected areas in the morning before putting socks and shoes on in an effort to keep the feet from sweating and creating the moist environment the fungus needs.

Another possibility that is right up a prepper’s alley is a soak in vinegar water.  One part vinegar to four parts water.  Soak the affected foot/feet once or twice a day for 10-30 minutes, then dry well.  Some people report success soaking in diluted bleach, dandruff shampoos, Epsom salt water, cinnamon water, diluted lemon juice, and hydrogen peroxide also.  Additional homeopathic remedies include applications of garlic, tea tree oil, neem oil, and diluted oil of oregano.

OTC anti-fungal creams usually help.  You may know them by brand names like Lotrimin, Lamisil, or Tinactin, but generics are fine also.  Just be sure the active ingredient(s) are the same.  Treatment should continue for 4 weeks or for at least a week after symptoms have cleared up.  (A note of caution– some people believe that long-term use or large doses of anti-fungal medications may cause liver damage, though this seems to be mostly a concern about oral prescription medications).

Some doctors think that the problem is further complicated by bacterial infection in the affected skin.  As a result, they recommend a soak in diluted Betadine (two capfuls to 1 qt warm water) to kill any bacteria.  (I am not endorsing any of these in particular- just reporting what my research found.  You must be very careful with what you apply to your skin).

Do NOT use topical corticosteroids (often know as hydrocortisone) on Athlete’s Foot.  MedicineNet says that   they can act as “fertilizers” and actually worsen the condition.

Preventing the Spread

Keep in mind that this fungus is highly contagious.  Not only can it be easily passed from person to person directly by contact and on moist surfaces like shower floors, but it can spread to toenails, hands, groin, scalp, etc.  Use good sanitation after treating the affected area, do not share socks or shoes with others, and do not walk barefoot in common areas.  Wear “shower shoes.”  Clean showers and other similar common areas often.

As the condition is treated on the feet, the shoes should be too.  Wash the shoes if possible.  An aerosol misting of Lysol can help, too.   Allow the shoes to dry completely in the sun, laces loosened and tongue pulled out.  Sprinkle anti-fungal powder inside.  Alternate which shoes you wear rather than wearing the same pair day after day.

Important note:  It is possible to pass the Athlete’s Foot fungus to others without being much affected by it yourself (kind of like being a “carrier”).  Or, it may be so mild for you (“a little dry skin”), yet very bothersome for others.  People with other chronic health problems may be more likely to develop troublesome infections.  Also, once you’ve had it, you are more likely to get it again than someone who has never had it.

Got any other homeopathic remedies for curing this?  Do you “swear by” at particular brand of OTC?  Please share in the comments section.

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One Comment on “First Aid Refreshers, part 7: Athlete’s Foot”

  1. scrambo Says:

    urine will kill athletes foot also alot simpler to produce….


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