Q. I chuckled when I read your newspaper column about athlete’s foot and saliva. The fellow had read that dogs lick their wounds because saliva has healing properties, and he wondered if it would work for athlete’s foot.
My uncle had his athlete’s foot cured by his small terrier dog back in the 50s. When my uncle came home in the evenings, he would remove his shoes and socks and put his feet on a hassock while reading the paper. The dog always went to him immediately and licked his feet all over, especially between the toes. After about three months, he noticed that the athlete’s foot which had plagued him for most of his adult life had gone away!
A. Thanks for the story. Dog saliva is active against several microbes that cause life-threatening infections in newborn puppies. There is preliminary data to suggest that human saliva may have anti-fungal properties.
We doubt that makers of athlete’s foot remedies will be very worried, however. Most people couldn’t stand to have their toes licked for very long. Our veterinary consultant reminded us that dogs often carry a variety of bacteria in their mouths, which could be a problem if saliva got on broken skin.
Here are some other home remedies for athlete’s foot offered by readers:
“This has worked for me – since athlete’s foot is a fungus. Try using baking soda – it will neutralize the fungus. I wash my feet in the shower using a handful of dry baking soda on each foot. Rubbing it in with my hands and especially between the toes and around the toes – it works for me! It stopped the itching for me. For your toe you may want to soak it everyday until you see results. I would say at least 2 cups of baking soda to enough warm water to come up to your ankles. Baking soda is so cheap. All the best!”
Sheila, Jan 1, 2010
“I’ve tried Vick’s on the bottoms of the feet & in between the toes, then cover in a white cotton sock. This relieved the itching & flakiness of the skin. You see results in a couple of days.
“I’ve also tried perioxide, baking soda, epsom salt in warm water to soften the feet & it leaves your feet baby smooth & whitens your toe nails too.”
MM, March 16, 2010
“My wife and I both got rid of athlete’s foot by soaking the affected areas in vinegar once a day. The athlete’s foot was gone in 1-2 weeks, and it did not return.”
KM, Jan. 25, 2011
“Since the 1960’s, I have cured/prevented athlete’s foot by washing my feet in the shower with Head and Shoulders hair shampoo. If you use Head and Shoulders on feet that already have athlete’s foot, it will burn a little for the first 2 days. It will be gone in less than a week. To prevent it, wash your feet with it once or twice a week.”
JWH, Feb. 5, 2011