Athlete's foot is a fungal skin infection not exclusive to athletes. The fungus thrives in areas that are always moist and warm, but the skin between the toes (toe webs) is most susceptible to it, especially in hot humid weather. Feet in poorly ventilated shoes soak the socks in sweat and become breeding grounds for infection. In an advance stage, the disease may become chronic and painful.
v Mild to severe itch, usually on the feet.
v Cracked, scaling and peeling skin, particularly in the toe webs, which sometimes spreads to the soles.
v In advanced stages:
Ø White, soggy skin in the toe webs.
Ø Unpleasant odour.
Ø Oozing from blisters.
Ø Crumbly white and thickening toe nails, if left untreated.
Ø Pain in the affected areas.
What you can do
v The infection heals spontaneously, if you carefully dry your feet before wearing socks and shoes. Foot wear must be kept thoroughly dry. Thick cotton socks or sandals are recommended. Use foot powder to keep the feet dry.
v Apply antifungal cream or powder for about two weeks, even if the infection disappears sooner.
v Consult a doctor if symptoms persist after two weeks of antifungal use.
v For immediate relief of burning and itching, try using any one of the following:
Ø Soak feet in mouthwash such as Listerine. While it may be functional, due to cultural differences, some would advise against soaking your feet in Listerine.
Ø Soak feet in warm salt water.
Ø Soaking your feet in water and white vinegar twice daily will start to rid off the infection. The solution should be one part white vinegar to four parts water and soaking should last twenty minutes. Don't use the mixture more than once.
v Accompanied with the application of tea tree oil, the fungus will clear up. The tea tree oil needs to be applied to the affected areas of the foot in small amounts.
v Always keep your feet clean. Dry your feet, especially the toe webs, before putting on footwear. Make sure that your socks and shoes are likewise thoroughly clean and dry.
v Do not go barefoot in public showers or locker rooms, and on soil.
v Alcohol and sugars along with processed foods should be avoided while fresh fruits and green vegetables should be added. These measures can help fight off infections.