Most of you have heard of athletes foot. Athletes foot basically encompasses two conditions; fungal infection of the skin and of the toenails (onychomycosis). Both of these conditions are actually quite common, and no, you do not have to be an athlete to get athlete's foot!
Many become exposed to the infection easily by walking barefoot through communal areas i.e. locker rooms, swimming pools, public showers and steam rooms. I have also had many patients who have caught the infection at nail salons.
The most common symptoms are cracking or peeling skin, skin itchiness or irritation, discolored, thickened, crumbling and or painful toenails.
For patients who are Diabetic or immune-compromised, it is important to address these infections as soon as possible. If these patients are left untreated, the infection may cause skin to breakdown and lead to foot ulcerations and cellulitis.
If you believe that you have foot fungus seek medical attention. Your doctor will evaluate you and come up with an appropriate treatment plan given your medical history. Common treatment options are topical anti fungals for toenails and skin, oral medication and laser therapy.
Once you have followed up with your doctor you may want to integrate these complementary treatments.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar: You want to make a soak with equal parts water and apple cider vinegar. You should look for pure 100% organic apple cider vinegar for the most effectiveness. Take about 5 cups of apple cider vinegar and pour into about 5 cups of water in a large bowl or basin. The water will prevent burns and irritation from the vinegar. Soak infected feet for 15-30 minutes 2-3 times per day for one week. After the first week soak 1-2 times per day for about 3-4 more days. Pat feet dry after you remove from soak.
2. Fresh Air and Sunlight: A key element in fighting off foot fungus is keeping your feet clean and dry. Try wearing sandals when you can such as after you finish exercising or upon returning home from a long day of work remove your socks and put on sandals to keep feet exposed and dry
3. Tea Tree Oil: Apply a thin coating to the affected area two or three times a day. Apply to the area for about two weeks after signs of the infection have disappeared. Be sure to select brands that are 100% tea tree oil only.
4. Moisture Wicking Socks: Fungus thrives in warm, dark and moist environments like the inside of your shoes. Wear socks made of natural or acrylic fiber blends that draw the moisture away from your feet instead of keeping it in. One natural fiber blend is merino wool. Some synthetic blends are designed to wick moisture away from the skin and work best to keep the feet dry such as Drymax socks. Most people are surprised to hear that 100% cotton socks absorb moisture but do not wick it away from the skin. This leaves your skin, socks and shoes wet and a breeding ground for fungus.
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Dr. Suzanne Fuchs has a passion for nutrition, health and fitness. She aims to connect the dots between our overall health and the substances that go into our bodies on a daily basis by using only evidence based medicine, science and expert advice.
Dr. Suzanne Fuchs currently practices concierge foot and ankle medicine and surgery in Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida at LuxePodiatry™
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