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


For more information about remedies for athlete’s foot, we suggest you check this link.
You can also download our free PDF Guide for Smelly Feet.

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  1. Genoveva

    Wow !
    It’s been ten years since I have not had an AF episode and have always wondered why ?
    Since my husband has always had pretty severe AF at times.
    I had expected to continue experiencing this AF problem for sure but like I said ten years clean. Now I have my answer …lol
    Ten years ago I got my little 2.5 lbs chihuahua Zena and six years ago 4.5 lbs Zoey joined us.
    Yes they have been feet lickers from day one . Hahaha I know it can sound gross but it can be very soothing after a long stressful day on your feet . Well I think by now you will all have guessed that my husband has not shared in the relaxing and healing experience of having two small dogs lick his feet .
    So being the wonderful wife and humble partner that I am , I can’t wait to show my loving husband this read.
    PS “I think this is best as a preventive measure and not to cure a severe outbreaks accompanied by open fungus wounds .

    “Now I know everything “🐾

  2. Gary

    I’ve suffered from athlete’s feet for over 30 years and the best cream for me was Canesten, it would take 2 to 3 weeks to get rid of it. we just picked up our third dog, it is a Boston Terrier; when my AF came back, she started licking between my toes. It was strange and tickling the first 2 or 3 times. It works and faster than the cream. I will also try the other suggestions above (vinegar, socks & Head & Shoulders).

  3. julie

    My dog healed my athletes foot within 1 week. She licks the same toe still everyday, even though it’s been gone 4 months lol.

  4. Mac

    Our Westie has cleared my athlete’s foot completely. The sensation was a little odd at first, as the dog licked both my feet, but I’d rather that than the years I’ve suffered with AF & also the regular bouts of Infection’s. Creams & Potions that Ive bought over the years have been a complete waste of money.
    Get a dog, not only for the unconditional love & affection, but for the ‘Natural Benefits’ also.
    We have heard of this before. We have been taken to task, though, by dermatologists who say that it is not good to let a dog lick an open wound.

  5. Sherri

    I’ve got a husky, and earlier today my athlete’s foot was itching something awful. The cream that I had been using for days just was not working at all. Well, he started to lick my toes…weird, and so I let him lick between the area that had been itching intensely. Well, that was over two hours ago, and that area has NOT itched since he licked there. Very strange, but if it’s working, I’m going to let him do it again!

  6. dan

    Strange because I’ve recently brought a dog and last night i had my socks off and he sniffed my feet intensely all over. Then began to lick my feet where my athletes foot is n didn’t stop but I couldn’t handle it lol. Anyway first thought was he’s found my athletes foot I’ll see if anyone else has experienced this!!

  7. JJ

    I have also had the experience of a dog licking my feet and found it cured athlete’s foot within a week. Amazing that someone else had the same thing happen

  8. Barbara W.

    When I broke a toe,TWICE in short order, in Coronado, CA, my dachshund licked it well in short order…. both times.
    I don’t know how she KNEW it was hurting or broken, for that matter.
    P.S. It was a little toe…..

  9. W. Curtis

    I suffered from athlete’s foot for 40 years. I tried every cream and potion on the market. Most would “cure” it in about three weeks then it would return in about two weeks. My Dr. impressed on me to keep my feet dry. I tried drying them thoroughly after a shower with a special towel my wife made for me. That helped. This evolved into using my socks. Every morn and night, or whenever I put on or take off my socks, I draw them back and forth between each pair of toes. I have not had a bad infection for 15 years. Occasionally I will get a minor infection. Continuing the same treatment it is gone in a couple days. Convenient, no chemicals, no cost!

  10. JimC

    Because both of your feet sweat during the summer months, it is recommended that Betadine (its not cheap) be applied by a Q-tip, use two, one for each foot. Do not re-dip the Q-tip into the bottle of Betadine!! Do this before retiring for the night and again after waking up. You may if you wish cleanse your feet in the morning before applying the next application. The ingredient, POVIDONE is a proven germ killer. Your fungus will vanish after a few days and the area between your toes will heal and remain dry. Woo Hoo, athletic fungus has vanished.

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