Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Athlete’s Foot

There’s a fungus among us and it is frequently found between our toes. This is probably the most common fungal infection known to mankind and you can understand why. There is no better place to set up housekeeping than a dark, moist, warm environment like feet. Classic symptoms include redness, itching, cracking, burning, and pain. The longer you let an athlete’s foot infection smolder, the harder it may be to eradicate.

In the old days, pharmacists often recommended something called Whitfield’s ointment. It mostly contained benzoic acid and salicylic acid. Then along came Desenex (undecylenic acid). Such products could hold the fungus at bay but cures could be hard to accomplish. Like that an unwelcome relative this infection has a bad habit of showing up uninvited and staying longer than desired.

Now there are even more effective antifungal creams, ointments, powders and sprays. There is tolnaftate (Absorbine Antifungal Foot Cream and Powder, Aftate, Desenex Spray Liquid, Dr. Scholl’s Athlete’s Foot, Tinactin, Zeasorb-AF), clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), and miconazole (Micatin). Any of these products should be quite effective at controlling athlete’s foot, but to completely eradicate the infection you will have to be patient and persistent. And even if you follow instructions carefully it is likely the fungus will eventually return.

Home remedies can be surprisingly effective for treating athlete’s foot and they are usually a lot less expensive than the drugstore treatment. People have used antiperspirant on their tootsies to kill bacteria and keep the feet dry. Others tell us that soaking the feet in strong tea can be helpful. Tea tree oil has antifungal properties and seems helpful, though some people may be allergic to this natural product.

Rate this article
3.9- 8 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.