- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Battling Athlete's Foot
It's not just for athletes...
Did you know that as many as 75% of people at some point in their lives wind up with the fungal infection Tenia Pedis, which is more commonly known as Athlete's Foot? I'd had bouts with athlete's foot on and off over my adult years. It started in college, and I'm sure was not helped by my love of combat boots and junk food. Most often it would crop up between my toes and I'd battle it back if it got uncomfortable. It was a laisse-faire attitude that let it get a literal foothold in my toenails.
Once the fungus is in the nails, it's almost impossible to get rid of without specific, prescription medication which comes with side effects. So I resigned myself to some ugly toenails and for the most part didn't have trouble with my feet. And things just went that way for a few decades.
Chronic Athlete's Foot
From Bad To Worse
In September 2008, all that changed and my feet went from bad to worse. Now I was living in the Pacific Northwest which is much moister than many places I've lived. And I had a super nasty housemate situation going on, with evictions and threats of violence attached. How your immune system is working can have a lot to do with how your body deals or doesn't deal with a fungal infection, and stress can really suppress your immune functions. Right in the middle of that whole ugly situation I had some friends come to visit from out-of-state, and we went for a day hike around town. It was a great day and the walk wasn't longer than anything I might ordinarily do, but by the end of the day, I could just feel my feet burning in my shoes. When I took off my shoes and socks at home that night, my feet had erupted in a huge, blistered rash that wrapped up the instep and spread across the tops of my feet and up onto my ankles. Yikes!
A bit of research and it was apparent my fungal infection had changed from an acute infection into a chronic infection. I had weeping blisters, it was spreading steadily upwards and if my feet got the slightest bit warm, I would experience the most intense and awful itching sensation. Supposedly, the only way to cure this would be to see a doctor, but I decided I didn't like the side effects of the prescription medication and that there had to be a way to tackle this myself.
What I'm saying here is not the end-all, be-all of athlete's foot treatments. It's just what really worked for me, and it didn't take health insurance or scary medication. I do have to say, it does take time and you have to stick with it. But if you aren't happy with how your feet feel and look, it's not difficult to do, nor too expensive to try.
My Preferred OTC Treatment
I have tried a lot of over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for athlete's foot and the one that worked the best for me turned out to be Lamisil AT Gel. Not the cream, the gel. Just about anything worked for between my toes, but once my athlete's foot condition went chronic and spread to the instep and tops of my feet, it seemed like nothing worked.
And then I read that gels had better absorption on the areas of the feet that weren't the sole. I gave it a try to noticed a difference within 48 hours. I also found I got the best results applying it twice a day, not just once. I used a cotton swab to smear the gel around instead of my fingers. This was beneficial in that 1) I wound up using less gel as my hands weren't absorbing it during the application and 2) it meant I didn't have to wash it off my hands afterward. I would gel my feet in the morning, right before I put my shoes and socks on and in the evening right before I got into bed.
After getting Lamisil AT gel at my local drugstores, I wound up going to eBay, where I could get much better price deals. The two warnings I have about buying this stuff from eBay is to make absolutely sure of the size of the tube before you order and be rigorous about checking the expiration dates of what you are about to buy from the sellers. Overall, I was able to save between 40% and 50% of retail prices by buying online.
The Sock Soak
Another angle I took in the athlete's foot battle was treating my socks. If you don't wear socks, you need to get rid of your present shoes, buy new ones and start wearing socks. Otherwise the fungus will just live on in your shoes and keep reinfecting your feet.
First I set up a five gallon bucket into which I put all my dirty socks at the end of the day. This made the next part easy and saved me having to fish in my giant hamper for lone socks.
Once a week, I would pour a gallon of white vinegar over the dirty socks, letting them soak in it all day. Halfway through the day, I'd turn the socks so that ones on top got a good dunking and ones on the bottom moved to the top to drip down their excess vinegar.
After a day-long vinegar soak, I'd run a small load of just socks in the washing machine, set on hot water. The soaking and hot washing was to make a better effort to kill any foot fungus that was in or on the sock fibers.
- PodiatryNetwork.com - Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot is by far the most common fungal infection of the skin. The infection can be either acute or chronic.
The Results and Some Tips for Keeping Your Feet Healthy
Well, it all worked. It took about nine months for the entire chronic outbreak to completely disappear. However it only took about three days for me to notice immediate relief from the worst of the sensation symptoms. If I slacked off at all, my feet would become uncomfortably itchy in just short amount of time. That went away after about two months. And I made sure to keep up with the treatment for a month after my feet looked completely clear.
Making changes in your overall lifestyle can also have a huge impact on how quickly or even if you can cure an athlete's foot infection. Here are a few things to remember:
Drying Between The Toes After Bathing - Don't be cursory. Really dry between those toes after you take a bath or shower. Try not to jump right into shoes and socks too.
Wear Natural Fiber Socks - Stick to natural fibers for socks. They are more cooling to the feet. And if your feet get really warm, think about changing socks halfway through the day.
Eat Less Sugar - A fungal infection can literally be fed if you have diet that is high in sugars. Cutting back on junk food and eating more organically can help make your body chemistry less helpful to the fungus.
Wear Natural Material Shoes - Shoes that are fabric or leather will breathe more than synthetic materials. Also, you want to wear a variety of different shoes, and not just wear the same pair all day every day.