Skin fungus is a common infection that is caused when certain fungal pathogens breed in moist or warm environments. Fungus usually grows in shoes, socks, public areas like swimming pools or gyms, and in showers. The microscopic fungus lives on toenails, hair and skin and the most common symptoms are usually peeling, itchiness or burning skin. If you suffer from some of these symptoms, there are a number of home remedies that can easily treat fungal infections.
1. Stay Clean
Our feet can easily be our dirtiest body part, and it is so easy to neglect their health. In order to prevent or cure fungal infections, the first step is to keep your feet as clean as possible. This can be done by regularly having foot baths in which you wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water. It is also recommended to scrub and exfoliate your feet every week to remove the dead skin cells that may hold fungal bacteria.
2. Keep Your Feet and Shoes Dry
As explained above, fungus develops in moist or wet areas, so it is important to make sure that your feet and shoes are dry. Don't wear shoes when you have wet feet (that includes sandals that are not made from plastic), and make sure that you dry your feet thoroughly after bathing. If your shoes are wet, place them upside-down by a window or throw them in the dryer before wearing them.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of nature's most powerful medicines, apple cider vinegar can be used to cure ringworm due to its strong antiseptic properties. When using vinegar to treat fungal infections, clean the affected area well with antiseptic soap before applying the apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball to the same area. Then, to maximize the effect of the vinegar, massage the area gently for a few minutes.
4. Nail Polish
Believe it or not, nail polish and nail polish remover, known as acetone, can help remove and prevent the growth of fungus on your nails. Usually, fungus on the nails appears in a yellowish color, and if you experience these symptoms, one good way to fight off the infection is by applying nail polish (either colored or clear) to the affected nails. The nail polish or the acetone will dry out the fungus in the nail.
5. Don't Wear Your Shoes For Too Long
Although many of us are on our feet all day, one of the worst things you can do that promotes fungal infections is to wear your shoes for an extended period. Because your feet sweat all day long (yes, all feet sweat), wearing your footwear for an extended period of time keeps your feet moist and prone to fungus growth. Try and remove your shoes when you can, even if it's just for a few minutes, to air out the sweaty area.
If you need to wear the same pair of socks and shoes more than two days in a row, it is recommended to apply a dash of baby powder into the sock and shoe before slipping them on. This will prevent the dead skin in the sock and shoe from affecting your foot and will keep any moisture out that will facilitate infection.
7. Keep an Eye Out For Obvious Symptoms
Some of the most obvious symptoms of a fungal infection are itchiness and burning of your feet or the formation of a crusty layer of skin on top of the feet. Also, there are commonly small rashes that develop and itch (known as Athlete's Foot) which is another obvious sign. It is important to be aware of these tell-tale signs because the skin infection caused by the fungus is very contagious, and once you have it, it is hard to get rid of.
8. Don't Wear Tight Fitting Shoes or Clothes
As mentioned above, fungus develops in your shoes and clothes because your feet and body sweat and the moisture is a thriving environment for fungus. Another way to minimize the seriousness of the fungal infection is not to wear tight shoes that will prevent air from entering in and aggravating the infected areas.
9. Tea Tree Oil
This is a magical solution for fungal infections of all sorts! Tea Tree Oil is a natural oil that has an excellent drying and purifying effect. Apply the oil or tea tree ointment to the affected area and leave your feet in the open for a few minutes until it absorbs. It is recommended to apply the oil after you shower to maximize the absorption into your skin. If the smell or strength of the oil bothers you, you can add it to a lotion or other scented oils. Other essential oils that work great are garlic oil and oregano oil.
10. Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Although this ingredient may seem scary, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water is one of the most effective home remedies for fungal infections. When you have a foot bath, add a bit of hydrogen peroxide into the warm water and soak for about 15-20 minutes. You can also rub the mixture onto the affected area but do so carefully and with gloves on. If your skin is sensitive to the hydrogen peroxide, it is recommended to use the essential oils instead that are a bit gentler on the skin.
These are all great and almost entirely free home remedies to treat fungal infections of the feet, back, and other areas. Once you find one that works great for you, make sure to share your wisdom with your friends and family!
Photo of apple cider vinegar by Mike Mozart / flickr