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8 Natural Home Remedies for Athlete’s Foot

This itchy, burning fungal infection can be highly contagious. These home remedies will help the rash clear up and stay away.

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Woman's legs clad in leggings and sneakersLars Hallstrom/Shutterstock

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. It thrives in warm, damp spaces such as locker rooms, public showers, and indoor swimming pools. “It’s usually in individuals who perspire a fair amount or spend a lot of time in closed shoes and socks and sweat,” says John Giurini, MD, chief of Podiatric Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “The fungi like dark, moist places and the inside of a shoe is the perfect environment.” People commonly get it on the bottom of the feet or between the toes, and symptoms of athlete’s foot include itching, burning, and stinging of the feet. Luckily, there are natural athlete’s foot treatments. Here are some home remedies for athlete’s foot. Keep in mind, if symptoms don’t get better in a few days or new problems pop up, it’s time to see a doctor, Giurini says.

Old style medicine glass bottles with tea tree oilLars Hallstrom/Shutterstock

Organic tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is commonly used for nail fungus, says Dr. Giurini. The essential oil has properties that may keep the athlete’s foot fungus from getting worse or spreading. Soak your feet for in a bath of water with several drops of tea tree oil to try it out—or try a tea tree oil foot soak. After soaking, thoroughly dry your feet. Here are the health secrets your feet wish they could tell you.

Apple cider vinegar being poured onto a tablespoonMichelle Lee Photography/Shutterstock

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar acts as a drying agent, helping to control sweating, according to Dr. Giurini. Try soaking your feet in this liquid for a few minutes, making sure you let them dry out after. Learn other ways apple cider vinegar can help your health.

Baking soda on a wooden spoon over a glass jarLuis Echeverri Urrea/Shutterstock

Baking soda

Sprinkle some baking soda on your feet or in your socks before putting your shoes on for the day. This is one of the home remedies for athlete’s foot that won’t stop the itch, but it will soak up excess moisture and keep the fungus from spreading.

Woman's feet in the shower covered with shower gel foamQuinn Martin/Shutterstock

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide, another drying agent, is a natural cure for athlete’s foot. According to a 2013 study in BMC Research Notes, it kills bacteria and fungi to help clear up your feet. Soak your feet in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, but be aware, hydrogen peroxide may sting, especially if you have cracked skin or open wounds, so don’t use it if your athlete’s foot symptoms are severe. These are the subtle signs of disease your feet can reveal.

 Purple-tinged garlic cloves on a plate on an old wooden tableSoyka/Shutterstock

Garlic

If you find that your athlete’s foot keeps coming back, garlic can help. Garlic has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, according to the American Family Physician. Crush up some garlic cloves and add them to water, then soak your feet for 30 minutes. Or create a topical treatment with minced garlic and something like olive oil and apply directly to the affected area for a simple athlete’s foot treatment. Find out how your feet can mess with your sleep.

Male feet in sandals kittipod raemwanith/Shutterstock

Let your feet breathe

Athlete’s foot thrives in warm areas so it’s important to let your feet air out and breath, according to Dr. Giurini. Wear sandals when possible, keep your feet cool and dry. If you need to be in sneakers or closed shoes all day, Dr. Giurini suggests bringing along another pair of socks to switch out. Also, avoid these shoe mistakes that are killing your feet.

teapot and cup of herbal green tea on bamboo mattMemory Stockphoto/Shutterstock

Green tea

This at-home athlete’s foot treatment contains beneficial molecules that provide anti-fungal benefits, according to a 2013 study in the journal The Foot. Place five to six green tea bags into boiling water. Let steep and then let it cools down enough to comfortably soak your feet. Soak feet for 10 to 15 minutes. Then let your feet dry. Don’t miss these things your podiatrist won’t tell you.

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Try an antiperspirant

This won’t address the itching or redness, but it could control athlete’s foot before it even starts. Dr. Giurini recommends spraying the bottom of the feet or even inside the shoe with an antiperspirant made for feet to control sweating and keep the moisture down.

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When in doubt, get an anti-fungal powder

Dr. Giurini still says his go-to athlete’s foot treatment is an over-the-counter anti-fungal powder. If symptoms are worse on the bottom of the feet, a cream is OK, but a spray is a solid option as it doesn’t leave your feet with extra moisture, Giurini says. “Use it twice a day for a minimum of four weeks,” he says. “You might see signs of improvement in a week or two, but that won’t suppress the fungus.”

Sources
Medically reviewed by Jessica Wu, MD, on October 29, 2019

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 with a B.A. in Journalism. When she’s not writing for RD.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.