Foot fungus is generally considered an unsightly and embarrassing condition. If you happen to be infected with a case, you’ll experience many painful or uncomfortable symptoms. Worse yet, despite being called “athlete’s foot,” or tinea cruris, you only find this annoying infection in locker rooms. You could’ve picked it up anywhere!
So where do you find relief?
While many people want to get rid of their supposed foot fungus, few realize a key step that comes before treatment: confirming that it’s actually foot fungus. Surprisingly, there are many conditions which mirror the symptoms, but don’t actually accept the same treatment. A nail infection, for example, may look like foot fungus, but feel completely different.
How can you tell? Let’s take a look at the most telling symptoms, and then explore the various treatment options you can try. From home remedies to professional treatment to over-the-counter fixes, by the end of this article, you’ll be ready to eradicate your foot fungus (if that’s what you have) for good.
Foot Fungus Symptoms That May Need Relief
Take a look at your feet. Do they show any of these symptoms? Keep in mind that foot and toenail fungus may start off slow and develop into a full-blown case over time. You may have been ignoring some symptoms, or hadn’t thought to associate them with a real infection.
Fungal infections tend to leech the moisture from your skin, which can result in a dry, flaky surface. This can get itchy and eventually lead to foot pain. If you lack in general skin care, you may also develop dry skin.
With dry skin often comes cracked feet - especially cracked heels. This will provide several nooks and crannies for the fungus to hide in and flourish. Even more concerning, if the cracks go deep enough, they can start to become cuts. Those cuts will be painful, or serve as a breeding ground for other infectious diseases. Avoiding dry feet is the first step to avoiding cracked skin.
Most people notice a fungal infection when their skin becomes itchy – incessantly so. The more you scratch it, the more red the area will become, and no amount of rubbing will help it subside. Aside from just being annoying, this itchiness (and scratching) may also open sores on your feet. The skin health will rapidly deteriorate after that.
Does it seem like your toenails are thicker than before? Then you may have a fungal nail infection. This is because the fungus will grow on the nail bed, causing the flesh to swell. The nail will then thicken in response, as a kind of defense mechanism. It won’t do any good – but it does provide you with a noticeable warning sign.
Some people have naturally thick toenails. However, this will be a substantial change and different from your norm.
Whitish or Yellowish Toenails
Toenail colors vary from person to person. However, you will notice a clear change in color if you have a case of toenail fungus. The nails will grow white or yellow all over, especially in contrast to your other nails.
If you’re not certain, try to compare your feet and see if there’s a clear difference. Keep in mind that foot fungus may spread between your toes, so one or two may share the color difference.
A pervasive indication of foot fungus is general foot odor. The infection will begin to eat into your skin and produce an unsettling smell. This will be especially strong after you’ve been wearing shoes throughout the day, as your feet will be sweating. Do your socks smell particularly bad? Then it may be time to seek out remedies for toenail fungus.
Why Are You Having Foot Fungus Symptoms?
So, with these symptoms in mind, do you absolutely have a case? Is it time to treat athlete’s foot? While the answer may be yes, as mentioned, there could be other conditions parading themselves as foot and toenail fungus on your feet.
Let’s check out different infections you may have and rule out any mistakes.
Do you only have a few affected nails on your feet? Does the problem seem isolated to those nails? Then you might have a nail infection instead of a fungal infection. These symptoms may include redness, itchiness, and peeling skin, but only around the nail bed. The best treatment for an infection will start early - which means it’s important to recognize nail infection and talk to a doctor about it early on.
Bacterial infections aren’t the same as fungal skin infections. Instead, they typically require an existing injury to the foot. The infection can remain local, where your skin can fight it off, or can actually move into other areas of the body. Bacterial infections typically include redness and swelling, but not usually cracking skin.
If you’re noticing a red itchy area on your feet, but not many other symptoms, you may have just stepped into some poison ivy. This is especially true if you have a habit of walking barefoot in outdoors spaces. Rashes from poison ivy only form where the ivy’s oil has touched your skin directly. The good news is? For the most part, it doesn’t leave serious damage and goes away in 2-3 weeks.
How Can You Manage Your Foot Fungus Symptoms?
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re experiencing foot fungus, it’s time to find the right treatment option. The good news is, there are a number of effective treatments for you to consider.
These fixes could help alleviate many of your symptoms (in the short-term) and eventually remove the foot fungus entirely (in the long-term).
Medical Intervention If Necessary
Of course, if you have any concerns about your long-lasting health, you should talk to a medical professional about it. Although you can cure most foot fungus infections at home, that’s not necessarily true for all infections. A home remedy is often applicable, but it may not be the right answer for you.
There are medical interventions that board certified dermatologists can prescribe. Antifungal pills or an antifungal cream can remove the fungus in extremely serious cases. If you’ve tried the options below and haven’t experienced long-term relief, consider getting a healthcare professional’s advice.
However, people without extenuating risk factors will typically benefit from one or more of the treatments below.
Exfoliating your skin can be a great way to alleviate other skin conditions, as well as avoid problems with fungus. Fungus will latch onto the cracks and grooves in your skin. When you exfoliate on a regular basis, you can eliminate or prevent these fissures. As such, when your foot makes contact with an infected surface by accident, the fungus has nowhere to start growing.
Exfoliation can also limit cracked, itchy skin on your feet. When you combine exfoliation with remedies for toenail fungus, it typically alleviates the symptoms and the cause at the same time.
Tea Tree Oil and Other Oils
Tea tree oil is extracted from – you guessed it – the tea tree, and has strong antifungal properties. In fact, one study found that a solution of 25%-50% tea tree oil cured athlete’s foot in 64% of the users.
While this is the most favored among home remedies, other essential oils can also serve as great treatments. Several fungal foot medications incorporate these in small or large ways:
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Lavender Oil
As a bonus, these oils offer a pleasant aroma. Not only does that make applying it nice (in contrast to strong-smelling medical creams), but it can also help mask the foot odor that fungus typically causes.
To use any of these options, mix the oil with a carrier oil, like warm coconut oil. Try to maintain a concentration between 25-50%.
In some cases, hydrogen peroxide is a great method of treating different types of fungus on your feet. As an antiseptic, it can kill the fungus directly, cleanse the area, and prevent it from coming back.
For this option, you have two choices of application:
- Pour it directly onto your feet. It will typically bubble and might sting.
- Pour hydrogen peroxide onto a cotton pad or paper towel, then wipe the peroxide around the affected areas.
Aside from that, soaking feet in a hydrogen peroxide solution may be helpful, especially when it comes to toenail fungus. This ensures even, thorough coverage – even under the nail. Combine an eighth of a cup of hydrogen peroxide with four cups of water. You can scale this recipe up or down if necessary. Let your feet soak for 10-20 minutes before rinsing and patting dry.
Keep the Skin Dry
Because fungal infections need dampness to thrive, it’s important to keep your feet clean and dry. This is true for people with or without fungal infections. If you’ve newly recovered, have never encountered a case before, or know you’ll be in high-risk areas (such as a locker room), this can reduce your risk factors for getting one.
The best approach is to start wearing shoes in outdoor places. This can even include swim shoes in public swimming pools, as that will protect your feet not only from fungus, but from other infections of the skin.
You can also use foot powders if you find it difficult to keep your skin dry. After you take a shower, dry your feet off thoroughly with a dry towel, especially between the toes. Then apply talcum powder to wick away moisture.
The Number One Treatment: The Athlete's Foot Pumice Stone From Love, Lori
This is the quickest and most effective method of handling your foot fungus. That’s because it combines several methods covered above into a tighter solution. If you don’t want the time-consuming treatment of essential oils, hydrogen peroxide soaks, and an exfoliating routine, you can use the Athlete’s Foot Pumice Stone with Tea Tree Oil & Antifungal Soap to do all of the above.
It contains tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and lavender oil. This boosts antifungal recovery and reduces foot odor. Additionally, it can help with dry and irritated feet, even if you don’t have foot and toenail fungus. The pumice stone will exfoliate off dead skin to reduce cracks and itchiness.
Love, Lori also offers a Foot Finish Antifungal Foot Cream that can be effective in healing and softening your cracked and itchy skin. That includes athlete’s foot, but also other fungal skin infections that may remain.
There are many elements of skin health, and it’s important to treat athlete’s foot properly. Athlete’s foot, contagious as it is, can be fixed – and by doing so, you’re also protecting everyone around you.
For a clean, quick home remedy, products from Love, Lori combine all the best home remedies for athlete’s foot into one. That can help you enjoy relief faster, efficiency – and permanently.