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Athlete’s Foot (Holistic)

About This Condition

Athlete’s foot? The toes will tell you. A persistent, burning itch between the toes can send you running for relief. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Keep it dry

    To discourage fungal growth, dry feet thoroughly after showering or bathing, use foot powders, and change socks frequently

  • Let your feet see the light

    Wear sandals or other open footwear to expose skin to sunlight’s antifungal effects

  • Try tea tree oil

    Apply a 10% herbal concentration in a cream base as a natural alternative to antifungal medications

About

About This Condition

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the foot that can be caused by a number of different skin fungi.

Generally, athlete’s foot does not cause serious problems; however, the disruption of the skin barrier can be a source of significant infections in people with impaired blood flow to the feet (such as people with diabetes) or in those with impaired immune systems. Infections of the nails are more difficult to treat than those affecting only the skin.

Symptoms

Symptoms of athlete’s foot include a persistent, burning itch that often starts between the toes. The skin on the feet may be damp, soft, red, cracked, or peeling; the feet may also show patches of dead skin. The feet often have a strong or unusual smell, and sometimes small blisters occur on the feet.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Keeping the feet dry is very important for preventing and fighting athlete’s foot. After showering or bathing, thorough drying or careful use of a hair dryer is recommended. Light is also an enemy of fungi. People with athlete’s foot should change socks daily to decrease contact with the fungus and should wear sandals occasionally to get sunlight exposure.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
2 Stars
Tea Tree
Apply a 10% cream twice per day
Tea tree oil has been traditionally used to treat athlete’s foot and has been shown to reduce athlete’s foot symptoms just as effectively as drugs and better than placebo.

Tea tree oil has been traditionally used to treat athlete’s foot. One trial reported that application of a 10% tea tree oil cream reduced symptoms of athlete’s foot just as effectively as drugs and better than placebo, although it did not eliminate the fungus.1

1 Star
Garlic
Refer to label instructions
The compound ajoene, found in garlic, is an antifungal agent that has been shown to be effective against athlete’s foot. Crushed, raw garlic applied topically may also be effective.

The compound known as ajoene, found in garlic, is an antifungal agent. In a group of 34 people using a 0.4% ajoene cream applied once per day, 79% of them saw complete clearing of athlete’s foot after one week; the rest saw complete clearing within two weeks.2 All participants remained cured three months later. One trial found a 1% ajoene cream to be more effective than the standard topical drug terbinafine for treating athlete’s foot.3 Ajoene cream is not yet available commercially, but topical application of crushed, raw garlic may be a potential alternative application.

References

1. Tong MM, Altman PM, Barnetson RS. Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis. Aust J Dermatol 1992;33:145–9.

2. Ledezma E, DeSousa L, Jorquera A, et al. Efficacy of ajoene, an organosulphur derived from garlic, in the short-term therapy of tinea pedis. Mycoses 1996;39:393–5.

3. Ledezma E, Marcano K, Jorquera A, et al. Efficacy of ajoene in the treatment of tinea pedis: A double-blind and comparative study with terbinafine. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000;43:829–32.

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