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 Your Doctor
If there’s no improvement in a week to 10 days after starting treatment withsupplements. 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 It Is
“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 daisylike flower, calendula is another
useful option. Widely available in health-food stores, this herb relieves inflammation and
soothes the skin, which promotes healing.
What Else You Can Do
Keep your feet clean and dry. With a hair dryer set on low, dry your feet. If you prefer to use a towel, launder it after each use. Wear clean, dry socks. Air your shoes after each use, and don’t wear the same pair every day.
Go barefoot when you can, or opt for sandals or other well-ventilated shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
Try over-the-counter antifungal lotions and powders; but avoid those that contain cornstarch, which can encourage fungal growth.Cut your toenails straight across to help prevent fungal infection.
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.
Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs