Aug 15, 2016
Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal infection of the skin and despite its name, isn’t a condition that only athlete’s get. If you have ever had athlete’s fungus or any other foot fungus, you know it can be difficult to treat, which is why we have compiled a collection of natural cures to help you recover from this condition. Before you resign to battling foot fungus forever, try apple cider vinegar, garlic, iodine, or any of our other reader-contributed remedy suggestions.
What Is Athlete’s Foot?
A fungal infection of the foot, athlete’s foot typically begins between the toes. The condition is closely connected to ringworm and jock itch and can be particularly uncomfortable. Damp socks and shoes as well as hot and humid conditions encourage the growth of the fungus.
Do I Have to Be an Athlete to Get Athlete’s Foot?
While the name suggests it, the condition actually has nothing to do with being an athlete. The condition generally occurs in people who regularly have sweaty feet and where tight-fitting or confining shoes, which is why athletes are considered prime targets for the condition.
How Do I Know if I Have Athlete’s Foot?
You can typically determine whether you have athlete’s foot or not based on your symptoms. Athlete’s foot typically causes a scaly, red rash. The rash begins between the toes, and itching is worse as you take off your shoes and socks. The fungus sometimes causes blisters or ulcers and may also lead to dryness and scaling on the soles and sides of the feet.
What are the Conventional Treatments for Foot Fungus?
As common of a condition as foot fungus is, it has a variety of conventional treatments. A doctor can help confirm your diagnosis and will also help you determine the best path of treatment depending on the severity of your condition. Typical treatment involves over-the-counter cream treatments or a prescription medication.
Can I Treat Athlete’s Foot Naturally?
In any case, natural remedies improve the efficacy of any type of treatment. These remedies help naturally eliminate the fungus by balancing the body and eliminating infection as well as inflammation. Apple cider vinegar, garlic, and alcohol are three of the best treatment options.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps relieve the itching and peeling associated with athlete’s foot. It also helps relieve inflammation and pain. The vinegar has antifungal properties that actually kill the fungus naturally and prevents the fungus from returning.
Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent. You can apply powdered or crushed garlic directly to the fungus to relieve inflammation and eliminate the fungus. You should also wash your feet with garlic juice.
Many sports doctors tell professional athletes to wipe povidone iodine (Betadine) between the toes every day for 1 week. Iodine disinfects the feet and helps naturally eliminate the fungus. It also dries out the fungus, to keep it from spreading. You can apply the iodine directly to the affected area using a cotton ball.
If you are trying to get rid of a case of athlete’s foot, try one of these treatment options or add one of your own suggestions to our below list of reader-contributed remedies!
Remedies for Athlete's Foot
I have traveled for business for about 13 years. Never having had Athelete's Foot I was totally niave and wandered around many a hotel room rug barefoot and used moisturizers on my feet, legs, hands elbow and knees. It's not the bathroom or pool you have to worry about, it's the rugs!! Imagine my surprise when I finally realized that I had/have a raging case of Athelete's Foot and Tinea Corporis which is a fancy name for Athelete's Foot on other parts of your body. On my feet I have what is known as "moccasin style" Athelete's Foot. What that means is that there is a purple blue infection on the bottom and sides of the foot like a moccasin. Hard as heck to cure. Six years later I'm still battling it, fortunately for me I live in a warm climate and can mostly wear open shoes with no socks or stockings, but when at a client site I have to wear closed shoes and socks. On a very recent trip I came home only to find that I had a severe relapse on my feet and red lesions on my ankles and shins. I had worn Dr Scholls Diabetic Socks in my closed toed, but ventilated shoes, thinking they would be good for my feet and let them breathe... Unfortunately I didn't realize they weren't cotton based. DO NOT USE THEM if you have Athelete's Foot or Ringworm. Look for socks that are 90 per cent cotton or more. I developed a severe case of Ringworm/Athelete's Foot which I had nearly overcome. On top of that I also had toenail fungus which I'd never had before. It got so bad that in a matter of days I lost most of one toenail. Desperately, I searched and found this site. I went out and bought several bottles of Absorbine, jr and instead of Vicks Vapor Rub I bought Tiger Balm Ointment Ultra which is much stronger, but also more expensive. It works, but also irritated the skin so a mild secondary bacteria infection set in. I used that for three weeks and also did salt water and lemon juice or ACV foot soaks as often as I could. I finally got the infection to a point where I felt I could go back to my nail shop without infecting the entire community I live in. My nail shop is run by a lovely, caring, giving Viet Nahmese couple who would do anything to promote good, healthy feet. I trust them implicitly. They clean and sterilize all their metallic tools and UV them as well. I still suspect the toenail fungus came from my theraputic pedicures which were healing my skin, but it occured to me that the emery boards, buffer pads and some solutions used for French Pedicures, my favorite, were shared with other clients.... Thus the toenail fungus. It's appearance with the recurrance of Athelete's Foot was pure coincidence. Long ago they taught and convinced me of the value of rubbing fresh lemon or lime wedges on toes and other areas of the foot. It's always worked before now. Salt foot soaks with either lemon juice or ACV have also worked up until now. They were shocked to see what happened to my feet, toenails, ankles and shins in just one week of closed shoes and socks. I stayed away from the shop for two weeks after so it was a total of three weeks. One week later now four weeks, after visiting them here's what has made DRAMATIC improvement, meaning almost no red or pink lesions and the toenails beginning to heal.
1. Continue the Salt and Lemon or Lime or ACV foot soaks as often as you can. I can do it once or twice a day on weekends but during the week it's hard to do it even once a day. Soak for at least 15 minutes. Remove feet from the soak, but DO NOT DRY WITH TOWEL, let your feet air dry so the salt solution stays on your feet. This works really well if you do it just before bedtime.
2. My friends at the nail shop gave me, as a gift, they were NOT practicing medicine... A tiny tube of oinment I do not believe can be purchased in the US. It contains Clotrimazole, an antifungal, Betamethasone, not sure what that does, and Gentamicin, a powerful antibiotic. They suggested I put it on the very red angry lesions. I did and I could see results in hours. If you are in a country other than the US you may be able to purchase this ointment. You may be able to purchase this online from Viet Nahm, I'm not sure. If you can not, like me, I was able to successfully get the same results by purchasing Clotrimazole 2 per cent in the feminine section of the drug store, for vaginal infections. Gentleman, if this emabarrases you, get a sister, Mother or girlfriend to purchase it for you. In the longrun it's cheaper and stronger than what you can purchase in the Foot Care section of the drugstore. For the antibiotic portion of the creme I use the generic drugstore brand of Silver Colloiden ointment. It works! I put the Clotrimozole ointment all over my feet, ankles and shins. It absorbs easily with no smell. I only put the silver colloiden ointment on red, not pink spots. Do this twice a day, morning before socks and at night before bed NO SOCKS.
3. My drugstore chain just recently, in the last few weeks began carrying a product called _______. I believe it's a product out of the UK. It's active ingredient is Tolfunate 1 per cent. Even though it's not sold for toenail fungus, just the skin under and around the fungus, it seems to be helping. I also use it if I see any tiny pale pink spot anywhere on my body. It works. My mistake in the past was not addressing these tiny pale pink spots as soon as I saw them. The ringworm on my feet started out as pale pink spots from mosquito bites. Stupidly I igonored them. When I had to wear closed shoes and socks and they rubbed the spots... bingo, Ringworm....
4. I can't say enough how rubbing toes, toenails and feet with a wedge of lemon or lime has done over the years. That advice too, from my friends at the nail shop. (Obviously, it works on hands too! )
5. It occured to me that maybe I should look at myself internally as well. After some research online... Yes, everyone and their uncle talks about Probiotics.... But I also found out about Pau D' Arco. Sounded good, I always tend toward natural over chemical. Turns out I may not be able to take it internally but it works on other skin lesions like old age spots if rubbed on externally with a Qtip..... Many of mine are breaking up and going away... makes me wonder are they fungal based as well?
6. I seem to be sensitive to Probiotics too. If the tablet is too strong I get the runs. Have discovered if it is in tablet form I can cut the pill in half and be fine. Yoguhrt is still the best!! I think it is a good idea to treat the inside as well as out, as long as the Foot or Body Fungus seems to last.
Just a few comments to everything I've read here. Thanks all of you for sharing, it's really, really helped. For those of you who started a new treatment and felt it was "spreading", it probably wasn't spreading. The medicine just brought out infection that was probably already there so you could see it.
And PLEASE for those of you who have tried "scrubbing until it bleeds" PLEASE STOP THAT! That's how you will develop a secondary bacterial infection on top of the fungal infection you are trying to overcome. Skin is the largest body organ we have and it's fascinating in what it can do. Don't make what you have worse! Scarring will be almost nonexistant if you treat the fungus with what kills it and don't injure the skin in the process.
Killing fungas is a slow process, much slower than a bacterial infection, be patient, but most of all be persistant. You can may be skip a day or two if you are just plain too tired to complete the routine. I know, I have been many a night. But just because it looks "better" don't stop the routine. Fungus takes time to grow in your skin and even more time to kill it in your skin. Even after your skin looks healed, keep up with the treatments for at the very least four weeks and after that do some kind of preventive treatment so you never get a fungal infection again.
Replied by Jaydee
Adelaide, South Australia
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Posted by Jay (Orlando, Fl) on 09/17/2011
I FINALLY, after years of searching, found a cure for tinea pedis(Athletes foot). It is Isopropyl Alcohol 91% strength. I found it in the Pharmacy Section.
The 70% alcohol was ineffective and did nothing to kill the fungus.
I am so happy that I found something that actually works! For the disabled, one can purchase a spray nozzle and spray the alcohol on the feet from a distance without having to bend over.
Replied by Southernarc
Durham, Nc, Usa
Replied by Jeliberry123
Posted by Denise (Austin, AR) on 07/29/2009
I have had problems with athlete's foot since I was a teenager. Now my teenage son has become bothered by it. I was told by an old friend that if I were to sprinkle a little bit of old fashioned cooking alum into his and my shoes and a little in our socks that it would take care of the athlete's foot and actually make his feet odorless. She (the friend) said that the alum closes the pores which prevents the feet from sweating, stopping the odor, and also the athlete's foot. I was told about this probably about ten years or so ago but have been reluctant to try it because it just doesn't sound like a healthy option. I'm certainly not going to try it on my child without knowing what repercussions will be as a result. Has this ever been suggested before?
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Posted by Jonna (NYC, NY, USA) on 07/27/2008
1:30am, Saturday Night: I read AC from West Midlands, England's post about using Garlic for Athlete's foot a few days ago and was eager to try it. I have had athlete's foot on and off for years. I also have deeply etched cracked heals which I understand is possibly a fungal infection. And then recently the skin around my right big toe started to peel and looks nasty as can be. I tried the best OTC for Athlete's Foot, but with limited success. Takes 5 days to go away and then comes back a couple weeks later.
We had just run out of garlic, so I opted instead for another powerful anti-fungal, Wild Oil of Oregano. I use OO for coughs and sinus infections and had about 15 capsules left. Before going to sleep, I punctured a capsule of oil and rubbed it over both of my feet, especially concentrating it on my big toe, in between my toes where the athelete's foot itched and the cracks on my heals. I put socks on so the oil wouldn't get all over the sheets. It doesn't smell bad at all -- much better than garlic for sure!
Just like AC reported, there was dramatic improvement by the morning! The infection around my big toe was 50% better... The blisters in between my toes had disappeared. The cracks in my heals have started to seal and are unbelievably soft... (I had been rubbing shea butter on the cracks every night, which helped, but not to this extent).
I did the Oregano oil 3 morning and night for 2 days, took a day off. The infection around my big toe is all but gone. No more peeling skin. The cracks on my heels continue to slowly improve. Tonight I switched to Grapefruit Seed Extract and my feet, normally cold, warmed up right away. This may be a great remedy for those suffering from cold hands and feet. My feet are still tinglingly warm 2 hours after applying the GSE.
I have the feeling that the GSE will work just as well as the Oregano Oil. I also am trying the GSE on my perioral dermatitis and will report back any improvements. I can tell you that the itchy postules around my nose have disappeared. I had to wash off the GSE after about 20 minutes because it started to burn.
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Vancouver, Washington, United States
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New York City, America
Posted by John (Gainesville, Florida ) on 04/13/2015
Rarely have I found a home remedy more effective than prescription medication, but in the treatment of athletes foot apple cider vinegar is much more effective and inexpensive. In spots that are about the size of a coin I tear paper towel patches to fit, then soak them in vinegar and place them to cover the spot. Leave it on until it eventually dries, which is about half an hour. Two treatments a day for two days will usually stop the fungus in it's tracks, depending on how deeply the fungus has penetrated the skin layers. Vinegar is an acid of just the right strength to kill the fungus without causing tissue burn, as does clorox. I use the bleach solution to soak my socks in and spray the inside of my shoes. Afterward, allow shoes to dry in the sun. Works like a charm.
Posted by Thomas (Salem, Oregon) on 12/18/2014
I have found Apple Cider Vinegar to be very effective to eliminate athlete's foot. I soak my feet in 100% full strength, undiluted ACV for one hour whenever the athlete's foot gets active. One or two soakings makes it go away. Daily soakings for an extended period of time might eliminate it altogether. The athlete's foot comes back when my feet don't get enough air. The worst thing is winter sleeping under synthetic (polyester or acrylic) blankets. I have to use cotton-only bed linens and blankets to allow my feet to "breathe." And I use 100% cotton socks.
Posted by Lana (DC, US) on 12/12/2014
I had a case of very itchy AF between my toes that I just couldn't kick - it had gone on for months. Lamisil was keeping it under control - sort of- but not eliminating it. I read about using vinegar diluted with water and tried it a while ago, but it seemed even less effective than the Lamisil.
Then the AF took a turn for the worse - the itching was waking me up several times a night, and was at the "want to claw your skin off with your fingernails" level. So I went back to the web and saw the posts about undiluted vinegar. I was worried that it might be too harsh on my skin, but was getting desperate it this point so I was willing to risk it.
I didn't have ACV in the house, so I used distilled white vinegar at 5% acidity. I put it in a Tupperware container elevated on one end so it mainly covered my toes. I also followed earlier posters' instructions and let it air dry without rinsing it off.
As some others have said, the results were amazing. The itching went away during the first soak. On day two, I soaked my foot twice. Since then I really haven't had any itching. But at this point (3 days after the first vinegar soak) I am continuing with daily soaks of 10-15 minutes until I'm confident it's all gone.
I also haven't noticed any ill effects from using the undiluted vinegar.
And one final thing -- I also started using antifungal powder between my toes when I need to wear shoes/tights/hose. That seems to help too.
Very happy with the vinegar!
Posted by Suzy (Eugene, Or) on 07/03/2012
I found this site back in April. I swim 3 times a week and even though I wear flip flops I am very prone to athletes foot fungus and have been for 34 years ie.. Since high school gym class! A few years ago I even was prescribed an antifungal -- which did clear it up for a few months. But it has always came back. I had used with some success a mixture of garlic and lavender oil. But the smell was somewhat offensive. I began soaking my feet in ACV a non organic type. I must have a high tolerance for pain or it just felt better than the itch and burn as I can soak for 30 minutes. Just stick my feet in and sit back and watch the BIG BANG. I also began taking at the same time internally (once a day) ACV but the organic type with mother. 2 Tablespoons with about one half teaspoon of organic raw local honey. (I also have allergies and asthma and thought this might help). My athletes foot (toe type) has completely cleared. I am very careful and wash my feet daily with DR Bronners peppermint soap and then blow dry them. I did not treat my shoes or socks... Although I did buy 20 mule team Borax with this intent. I still have an issue with some ugly cracked heels, but the there is no burning and itching between my toes and no skin sloughing off.
I am certainly looking at other information on this site and have been doing the mini beet protocol but will post later regarding my results with that. Thank you EC.
Replied by Nancy
Posted by Wendy (Raymore, Missouri, Usa) on 05/19/2012
I was suffering from cracked heels for a year; went to DO and prescribed oral fungal tablets that were harsh on my stomach and didn't work. I mentioned my problem to my chiropractor and he gave me an herbal foot soak that used ACV as the main ingredient. I steep the herbs in 2 cups ACV on the stove for 10 minutes, turn off heat and let it sit overnight, then strain the herbs and put the vinegar in a tupperware big enough to allow my foot to fit and soaked every day for 20 minutes. I covered the tupperware to keep from evaporating. If a person is suffering from systemic yeast/fungal problems, an herbal tincture of Spilanthes-Usnea can be used. Keep feet clean and dry, use natural cotton socks, disinfect shoes often and remove sugar/refined foods from diet. Also be sure to soak all nail clippers and files in alcohol to keep from re-infecting.
Posted by Manangel (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) on 04/26/2012
I've used full strength, undiluted ACV on my chronic athletes foot. After trying every over the counter pharmacuetical antifungal cream, I finally did some research and decided to try the ACV. I applied it just with my finger twice a day for one week. I noticed a significant difference after only one day. By the 3rd day my long standing chronic athletes foot was almost completely gone. I was shocked at how quickly it worked. I continued applying for one week and I haven't had a reoccurance in over a year.
Replied by Christia
Oxon Hill, Maryland
Posted by Steve (St Louis, Mo) on 03/26/2012
I've had Athlete's Foot in various forms for years. I used the usual topical ointments designed for this. Usually, I had success after a period of 1 to 2 week usage. I tried ACV full strength on my foot (a soak in shallow pan or applied directly with cotton). This is a "miracle" cure for me... My Athelete's Foot disappeared in one or two applications course it always reappears in different areas or the same... I apply ACV immediately not only treats the AF but stops the itching burning. Highly recommend ACV!
Replied by Chris
Posted by Concerned Mom (Clinton, Iowa) on 01/15/2012
How bad is the sting with ACV? I have tried several times getting my 3 yr old to soak his foot for his bad case of athletes foot and he screams it hurts. I did 1/4 ACV and 3/4 water and he still cries. Vicks seemed to help it the most but it is still spreading on the sole of his foot.
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Auckland, New Zealand
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Auckland, New Zealand
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Posted by Sharky (Pacoima, California) on 11/21/2011
I too have had this Problem for about 2 months.
Before I tried the A.C.V my foot was scaly and the fisrt layer of skin was completely off from the toes to the middle of the bottom foot it also got really swelled up I could not walk very painful. I was trying all the O.T.C medicine but it did not work my foot was completly soaked with wetness and a gooey type wetness I gauzed up my feet but it still leaked through I was wearing sandals because my foot inside a show would get too wet and skin would just keep falling off my foot it was red and swollen I seen this article about A.C.V so I went to the store and purchased a gallon for 5 bucks at Ralphs I inserted the foot in complete A.C.V just to get the entire foot submerged mind it is going to be painful to do this but you have to once the burning and stinging stops soak in a 50/50 water and A.C.V and soak for 30 min you can put the remainder of what A.C.V is in the foot tub just add water it will continue to burn my foot was like it was on fire it did not stop burning for 30 min so in reality a foot dunk in complete A.C V then a 50/50 soak which can be a total of 45 min do it at night and wrap your foot in a dry towel overnight, soak again the next morning before you shower then I used Vaseline and Aquafor you can get these at Target it keeps your feet lubricated and from drying which can be painful to walk.
I did this for 5 days and my foot came back to normal all the skin fell off that was dried and cracked and the skin came back fine a new skin layer was completly there in about a week but keep on using it till you have no more athletes foot- it's the best thing I am glad I read this website its wonderful to walk in shoes again but be careful- it can come back as it did to me on one toe but A.C.V nipped that it the but real quick so I hope this helps anyone out there suffering from this ailment A.C.V is the truth
Thank you, Sharky
Posted by Dorothy (Watonga, Ok) on 10/04/2011
I have athletes foot on one foot, it has never spread but have had it for years nothing has worked. Want to try the Apple Cider Vinegar soak but really dumb question here. For those of you who soak in it every night do you use a new solution each time or save the apple cider vinegar and use it over several times? Just wondering if I have to buy gallons upon gallons or just a couple? Also, I will throw out my socks but someone said put shoes in the freezer. Will this really work?
Thanks, love this site
Replied by Liz
Replied by Sarah
Black River Falls, Wiconsin, Usa
Posted by Howdy1242 (Emery, Utah, Usa) on 08/20/2011
As a diabetic I must keep a close watch on my feet. In a 13x9 " baking dish, I shred 1 medium potato and 1 cup apple cider vinegar I soak each foot for 30 minutes twice a month. It has been a cure for athletes foot, as well as other fungi, It works well for me.
I also keep a spray bottle with 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar as a after shower body spray , for itchy skin.