One of the most common is athlete's foot, also known as tinea pedis. This highly contagious fungus lurks in warm, damp environments such as locker rooms or public showers, just waiting to set up housekeeping between your toes.
Understanding The Problem
Athlete's foot is caused by a group of mold-like fungi called dermatophytes that sprout microscopic tendrils. These tendrils cause the body to produce more skin cells than usual. As these extra cells push to the surface, the skin becomes thick and scaly. By the time you experience the hallmark itching and burning between your toes, the infection has become well-entrenched.
For the 70 percent of people who suffer from athlete's foot at some time in their lives, most turn to over-the-counter antifungal powders, sprays, or creams. Yet these remedies can cause burning, blistering, peeling, and itching-the very symptoms they are designed to relieve. Severe cases may require taking an oral antifungal like terbinafine, itraconazole, or fluconazole, drugs that come with a laundry list of side effects including gastrointestinal problems and fatigue. Fortunately, most cases can be easily tamed with a more natural approach.
Most treatments for athlete's foot focus on the site of the infection. But building your defenses from the inside out can also help. Since the tinea fungus is a type of yeast, it's wise to limit or eliminate the amount of sugar you eat. Avoid alcohol, baked goods, candy, dried fruit, and fruit juice.
According to research conducted by the University of Minnesota Medical School, the fungus responsible for athlete's foot can suppress immune response. A healthful diet, exercise, and supplements such as andrographis and probiotics can help strengthen a weakened immune system.
Your Action Plan
When it comes to athlete's foot, the best defense is a good offense. Dry your feet thoroughly after showering, especially between your toes. Don't go barefoot in locker rooms or community pools. Replace your synthetic socks with organic cotton ones that wick away wetness, and change them every day.
Tea tree oil is one of the best and most popular natural remedies used to treat athlete's foot. Clinical trials have shown applying a 25 to 50 percent solution of tea tree oil twice daily to the affected areas treats the condition as effectively as commercial antifungal medications. Garlic, another strong antifungal agent, can also send your athlete's foot packing. The secret to garlic's success is an organosulfur compound called ajoene that has proven 100 percent effective in several clinical trials.
Pau d'arco also has a strong track record for fighting fungus thanks to a compound called lapachol. Recent preliminary evidence backs up pau d'arco's efficacy for both topical and internal use against a variety of fungi.
Christopher's Original Formulas Oil of Garlic Extract is extracted from fresh garlic bulbs to fight athlete's foot fungus.
Jason Tea Tree Oil is a high-quality, potent topical antifungal.
Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra regulates the balance of good bacteria in your intestinal tract to boost overall immunity.
Masada Foot Bath Dead Sea Mineral Soaking Salts, Unscented soothes and cools itchy, scaly feet.
Alta Health Pau D' Arco Skin Salve with Calendula helps to kill fungi, and heal and soothe burning and itching.