Athlete’s foot is a fungus infection of the toes and foot, characterized by an itchy, scaly, odorous rash between the toes. Cracks, irritation, redness and bacterial infections may complicate the picture. There are special forms which cause yellow blisters and can involve the soles and sides of the feet. Athlete’s foot is not limited to sports enthusiasts! Hot weather and wearing shoes which do not allow the feet to breathe are two predisposing factors. Most susceptible are people who have previously had the infection, adult men, those whose feet perspire and persons with a weakened immune response, but children, women and persons who go barefoot do not often contract it. Internal treatments do little, unless it is an expression of immune system problems.
Fungicide essential oils are the most effective topical treatment. Examples are :
- Myrrh (Commiphora mol-mol)
- Ti-Tree (Melaleuca spp.)
- Garlic (Allium sativum). This can be both dramatically effective and dramatically smelly!
A combination of equal parts of Lavender and Myrrh has been a long-standing treatment amongst aroma-therapists in Britain. The Myrrh is fungicidal and Lavender is anti-inflammatory and vulnerary. If the skin is deeply cracked and painful, Calendula oil is especially valuable. Initially use the oils dissolved in alcohol, for a few days, until the moistness of the skin has dried out. Continue treatment with an ointment or cream containing between 3% and 5% essential oils until the skin is completely clear. In addition the following hygiene pointers are important :
- Clean repeatedly round toenails and fingernails, as the minute fungal mycelium often lodges under the nails and causes repeated infections.
- Keep the feet dry, especially between the toes.
- Wear open-toed shoes or sandals when you have to have any footwear on at all. Avoid vinyl uppers and athletic shoes with rubber soles. Cotton socks are better than synthetics.
- Wash your feet and soak them in a vinegar/water solution (2-4 tablespoons/pint)for twenty minutes, three times daily. Herbal vinegar’s would be best.