A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

Athlete's Foot

A very common fungal infection called tinea pedis is famous by its more common name "athlete's foot" presumably because it tends to affect sportsmen much more so than it does other individuals. Athlete's foot is caused by a tiny fungi made up of many plantlike cells which are found profusely residing on the skin of all people around the world-the distribution of the causative organism is thus cosmopolitan. Under certain conditions, these fungi can multiply out of control and rapidly populate entire areas on the skin. The areas of growth that these fungi prefer occur in cramped and damp places, which include areas such as the wet places found inside socks and shoes and on the feet itself. The fungus tends to occur in some humans, entirely in the stretch of skin that lies between the toes, this is the area where the skin peels and cracks, and is given to scaly growth. Other people may have fungal growth in the toenails and on the sides of the feet and along the soles; the infection appears on these areas of the body and brings about the characteristic odor that is so commonly seen in athlete's foot.

Fungal organisms called Trichophytons are the most common fungi that cause athlete's foot in most individuals. Walking barefoot down a locker room floor does not necessarily increase the chances of contracting the fungi from other infected individuals, as the fungal organisms that cause athlete's foot are not highly contagious; this is even though the organisms may be widely prevalent in such areas as locker rooms as the sweaty socks and shoes provide an excellent breeding ground for the fungi; the fungi grows best in poorly ventilated and enclosed damp areas such as the inner side of shoes.

Supplements and herbs

For all persistent cases of athlete's foot the vat majority of doctors will prescribe conventional antifungal medications; these are sufficient to rid the fungi. They may not come cheap however, even when they are very effective and are needed in only small amounts. The cheapest way to combat milder cases of athlete's foot is therefore through the use of herbal supplements-the use of which will clear up most symptoms within a week of treatment.

Another great alternative is the use of the vitamin C, which is an effective antioxidant that can quickly and effectively promote the immune response of the body and aid the body in fighting off the fungal infection from within. The vitamin C can be utilized in conjunction with any of the topical supplemental measures which are given in the following paragraph.

The chemical environment of the skin is altered by the topical use of the tea tree oil, this is a natural and very powerful antifungal agent, the tea tree oil makes the skin inhospitable for fungal growth of all sorts and this aids in ridding the body of the fungi. Many types of lotions and creams containing tea tree oil will make excellent and effective fungal fighters. Many supermarkets will have products that contain tea tree oil as one of the active ingredients, any of these can be used in the topical treatment of fungal infections. Alternately you can prepare your own tea tree oil remedy by mixing 2 parts of tea tree oil in 3 parts of neutral oil, such as almond oil and applying this onto the affected area of the skin. Mix about twenty drops of tea tree oil to a small tub containing warm water to prepare an effective foot bath, use this water to soak your feet for about 15 minutes, once every 2 or 3 times on a daily and regular basis as long as the infection persists. Dab a few drops of pure tea tree oil onto affected patches of the skin after drying the feet well using a clean towel. A substitute topical preparation-one of those below will need to be used if the undiluted tea tree oil irritates your skin in any way.

The affected areas of the skin can be treated directly by carefully rubbing garlic oil onto them. Athlete's foot can be cleared up using supplemental garlic which contains a natural fungus-fighting substance called allicin. Garlic powder can also be used to dust your feet as a further topical measure. The cream of the calendula herb is another useful option; this cream is derived from a golden colored daisy like flower found in the wild. The healing of the tissues is promoted by this herb because of its ability in relieving inflammation and in soothing the skin-the preparation is widely available in many types of health-food stores across North America.


Commonly used essential oils for athlete's foot:

Additional things you may do

A very good precautionary measure against athlete's foot is to simply keep your feet clean and dried well at all times of the day and the night. The best way to dry your feet would be through the use of a hair dryer set on low-use this to blow dry your feet slowly. A towel might be preferred in some cases, make sure that it is laundered well after each use or session. At all times strive to wear clean and well dried socks; change these as soon as your feet start to sweat. Do not wear the same pair of shoes each and every day and aerate your shoes after each use to prevent fungal organisms from growing inside. Opt for footwear like sandals which will allow your feet to breathe and from time to time go barefoot in the garden or inside the house. Cornstarch which is found in some ointments must be avoided as it is known to encourage the growth of fungal organisms, at the same time try out as many over-the-counter antifungal lotions and powders as possible. To prevent any fungal growth on them, use a nail clipper to cut your toenails straight across in a line and keep them clean at all times of the day and the night.

Usual dosage

  • Tea tree oil. Apply the oil to affected skin areas two times daily. Never ingest oil of tea tree.
  • Vitamin C, 1,000 mg two times daily. If diarrhea develops, reduce the dose.
  • Calendula. Apply the lotion or cream to affected skin areas two times daily.
  • Garlic oil. Apply the oil to affected skin areas two times daily. Garlic oil can be used instead of tea tree oil.

For kids

The most effective herbal treatment for athlete's foot in children is the tea tree oil-form the tea tree: botanical name Melaleuca alternifolia, an Australian endemic tree species. This oil relieves the intolerable itching associated with fungal infections and speeds the rate of healing. The oil of the tea tree is renowned as the powerful botanical antifungal remedies available to date and is used in this role around the world. For around ten minutes every day have the affected child soak his feet in tea tree oil treated warm water two times a day, the treated ware can be prepared by simply adding about 10 drops of tea tree oil to a quart of warm water. Dry the child's feet thoroughly using a dry towel after every session of soaking, the area between the toes in particular must be dried very well in order to minimize the chances of recurrence. Paint the affected patch of skin using a cotton swab dipped in undiluted tea tree oil after the feet has been dried. Soaking of the feet must be done in a continuous process, every ten days or so and as long as the fungal infection persists in the feet. A decreased tenderness in the skin, a lessening of scaling, and blistering in the feet will be noticeable on continual treatment using this regimen. For another ninety days the affected area of the skin must be continuously treated by abundant applications of undiluted tea tree oil, which will have a soothing affect on the affected area. Some cases of fungal infection are very persistent in children, even though the vast majority of cases of athlete's foot in children tend to improve in three weeks-with appropriate treatment. Another alternative is to apply the undiluted tea tree oil onto the child's feet if the child won't sit and allow his or her feet to be soaked-this may be the preferred method to treat athlete's foot in small children and unruly children. For the removal of soggy skin and scales on the feet, rub the child's feet using a washcloth dipped in apple cider vinegar briskly between the toes. Such scaly and soggy skin is often very itchy and this rubbing will relieve the itch and remove the dead skin tissue. This very simple procedure is thoroughly enjoyed by most children affected by athlete's foot. Another great solution using a liberal amount of apple cider vinegar is to mix it in water and allow the child to soak his or her feet in the solution. Alternate topical applications of aloe vera gel and calendula can also be used as direct external measures if the skin of the child is red and itchy. The calendula preparation must be used in the form of an ointment if the athlete's foot is dry, and in the form of a lotion if the affected skin is damp. The skin is healed and soothed at the same time by the use of both of these herbs. Alternate preparations can be arranged for children who are easily prone to infection and for those who detest the smell of the tea tree oil, use a blend of equal parts of aloe vera liquid along with calendula, and extracts of the Echinacea, and the goldenseal herbs. The affected area can then be rubbed or massaged using this mixture. This very soothing liquid mixture is a great antifungal agent, which relieves the itching in the feet and provides relief to the affected part of the skin. Another powerful herbal fungicide is the common garlic, and it can also be used as a topical measure in the treatment of athlete's foot in affected children. Dust the child's feet with garlic based foot powder or if you prefer use a few slivers of raw cut garlic and put them in your child's socks or shoes as a preventive measure. The skin absorbs all the medicinal properties present in the garlic. To help keep the feet dry, use an absorbent powder such as green clay to dust between your child's toes-this will help avoid the incidence of all kinds of fungal infections.

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