The People's Perspective on Medicine

Athlete’s Foot Succumbs to Household Products You May Already Have

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It’s that time of year. Your body’s natural reaction to heat and humidity is to sweat because when moisture evaporates it cools the skin.

There’s one place, however, where sweat can’t evaporate easily. Inside socks and shoes, feet can get quite damp. That provides a hospitable environment for fungus. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection of the skin between the toes or on the soles of the feet.

Usually athlete’s foot is considered a simple condition to be treated with over the counter anti-fungal medicines. But not everyone gets relief from the itching and peeling. Some readers have found unusual ways to treat recurrent problems.

We heard this from one person:

“I was plagued with athlete’s foot for years. It didn’t matter how often I cleaned my shower or how careful I was in motel rooms. I always picked up athlete’s foot.

“All the lotions and creams available are useless. They don’t work well despite months of applications and are very expensive. A friend of mine who keeps cattle said a medicine for fungal infections (like ringworm) works only if it has two out of three qualities: it must sting, stink or stain.

“He told me to use Absorbine jr. Within three days, the athlete’s foot had stopped spreading, itching and burning. The stuff stung the raw skin between the toes, but it WORKED. Within a week, the infection was gone. Now I douse my feet with rubbing alcohol after my shower and let them dry. Doing this has kept athlete’s foot away for years. I keep Absorbine jr., in my bathroom and travel kit, just in case.”

Not everyone benefits from Absorbine jr. We heard this from a physician:

“After 32 years in medicine, I’ve seen a lot of athlete’s foot, but I have never seen a case as severe as my own. From age six on, my feet itched constantly, the bottoms of my feet developed deep bleeding fissures and I could evacuate a car by removing one shoe after a weekend camping with the Scouts.

“Over the years, I tried everything including griseofulvin, Tinactin, Absorbine jr., Desenex cream and soaks in gentian violet.

“Six years ago, my mother suggested vinegar. That night, I put my feet in a basin, poured two cups of white vinegar over them and let them soak as I read a book. When the vinegar hit the open cuts on my feet, it stung but I held on for 10 minutes.

“Without rinsing off the vinegar, I dried my feet with a towel, dusted them with Desenex and put on some socks.

“This is what happened:

“My feet stopped smelling immediately.

“The itching stopped immediately.

“When I dried between my toes, dead skin came off on the washcloth.

“The fissures healed and never recurred.

“I continue to soak my feet when I get up in the morning and each evening after I shower. My feet, even my heels, are soft and pliant. After I soak, I put the basin in the shower and use it for several days until it begins to look dirty.

“If the vinegar stings too much, dilute it 50/50 with water. Spray the insides of your shoes with disinfectant to kill the fungi and prevent re-infection.”

To learn more about other athlete’s foot remedies and solutions for foot odor, you may wish to consult our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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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. .
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I would love to know how Long before the fissures healed with the doctors use of vinegar. How Long did he do the treatment for and what happened along the way. I have thickened skin and tried every available antifungal and think it can’t get through the hyperkeatotic skin so using vinegar or urea to remove the dead skin and then an antifungal should do the job. But what is the timeline and what do you expect to see

I used every OTC cream for years but athletes foot always came back. I finally started using alcohol hand sanitizer instead of soap to clean my feet. Have not had an issue since then.

I ordered an all natural supplement called Fungus Shield online & within a week I noticed a reduction in dry peeling skin on my heels. I’ve been taking the pills for about four weeks now and my stubborn athletes foot is now only on small parts of my feet. Huge difference from the condition they were in when I was only using over the counter creams.

My poor mother had problems with stys on her eyelids for years until finally a doctor told her to put used tea bags on them and it worked so well any timeshefelt onecomingup she just put tea bag on her eye.

I have tried many different pain relief creams and this stuff works the best. I lift everyday and get athletic foot all the time! I never thought of putting this stuff on my feet to get rid of it! What a weird and wonderful positive side effect! Anyways, this stuff is great for heavy lifting. I’m talking about dead lifting I use pain relief patch that work so well. I used to not be able to sleep at night because the pain was that bad. But for lower back pain relief and neck pain relief, this stuff works like a charm. No mess like Icy hot, has a easy “glue stick” applicator so that only one person needs to apply. between the pain relieving cram and the pain patches, I don’t know which one I like more! If you lift, this stuff is biblical like the bible.

Topical menthol has been known to work for many other things other than being just a pain relieving liquid. Absorbine Jr has also been known to keep bugs away and I have heard many stories like this one where it helped with athletics foot. I used Absorbine Jr for my arthritis pain in my hands because I type all day on the computer and when I get home, there really hurt a lot. I need to work to pay the bills so I continue to do it, so its nice to have some pain relief liquid at home so I can soak my hands. I love to hear stories like this though! Creative thinking of using products to fix alternative things is great! I’m glad this worked so well for you!

The only thing that gets rid of athlete’s foot in our household is by making a spray or foot soak out of equal parts of organic apple cider vinegar and filtered water – we add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt to 8 oz. of spray – shake it or mix it up and instant relief! After drying the feet with a blow dryer, we apply Melaluca or Tea Tree oil (antifungal). Repeat at least in the morning and at night before bed – several times a day, too if possible.

I recently had to go to the hospital ER with severe pain in my right foot. And was diagnosed with an infection from my athlete fungus. Can this be a real deal?

I suffered various foot maladies since at least as far back as middle school. Athletes’ foot fungus, plantar warts, nail fungus. A doctor finally got rid of almost all of the problems, except for fungus in one nail. I don’t recall the name of the oral med., but over weeks, it was finally better. Meanwhile, a friend advised me to quit wearing colored socks and black shoes. I went to wearing white cotton socks, and white – or light-colored running shoes. Even though I have worked in conditions that sometimes keep my feet in wet, soggy conditions all day – the foot problems have not returned in more than 20 years now. Moreover – my feet no longer have a bad odor to them.

Apple cider vinegar & brown Listerine (both generic) will take care of athletes’ foot as well.


for years I have had fungus of some sort on bottoms of both feet. Podiatrist recently suggested using a generic cream with terbinafine hydrochloride 1% for 2 months. I did this daily — it worked. No fungus. After he looked at results, he suggested using same cream 2-3 times/week for preventive care.

Science in natural simple remedies? Sweat is salty, in a warm humid environment. Vinegar is acidic and kills fungus,
dirt around the sink, dandruff, you name it. Just check out Heloise with all her household uses for vinegar.
PS: Many docs don’t give their name because the medical institution calls it quackery. just be glad some of them “see
the light”. Dr Andrew Weil helped a lot.

Another key factor that helped me to keep athletes foot away is letting my shoes dry out thoroughly after each wearing. I rarely wear the same pair of shoes 2 days in a row. If I wear the same shoes day after day the moisture keeps building up and the fungus will thrive.

vinegar & generic Listerine does the same :)

When I was a kid, there was an outbreak of Ringworm in my school. Our local doctor had all of the kids who were his patients, use Absorbine Jr on the spots. Burned like h***, but cured the Ringworm. He also told our parents to keep us home from school, so the outbreak stopped fairly soon. The men and boys in my family cured Athlete’s Foot with Absorbine Jr, too.

Good news about your fight with athlete’s foot! I have my own treatment: Tea Tree Oil (always buy in dark bottle to preserve effectiveness) — and use it for almost everything — ANY kind of fungal infection, under-arm deodorant, boils deep under the skin, diluted with water in spray bottle for sore or scratchy throat, etc., etc.
Also, I have stopped using any household cleaners except white vinegar and baking soda. I keep spray bottle with 2/3 vinegar & 1/3 water in kitchen & bathroom. You would not believe what it does for the litter-box! Cleans, cuts grease (yes!) & disinfects. Baking soda paste cleans stove-top, etc. Google these 2 & find many other uses…let’s get rid of the chemicals that are destroying us! Best wishes to all!

3% Salicylic acid such as is found in Scalpicin works better than all the OTC anti-fungals–just be sure you read the label and don’t get the Scalpicin that is cortisone. If 3% salicylic doesn’t take care of it I use 12% salicylic acid, such as in corn and callous remover, on unbroken skin. The skin then peels off and the itching stops. This may sound harsh but isn’t.
People’s Pharmacy response: It may indeed be too harsh for some.

My feet sweat a lot for many years and I have had a problem since high school days. I have learned to always make sure my socks are 100% cotton or wool. It is hard to get 100% anymore.

Thank you for this information. Using natural or simple ingredients to remedy problems is always the better route to take (and frequently the least expensive).
It would be more helpful if the ‘physician’ were named, and, if this site could explain the scientific why this remedy works. There must be a chemical reaction that occurs, that should be easily explained, and it would be more helpful to your readers to know this. could you post this information and let us all know about it? Thank you.

I fight fungal infections under my “apron” (overhanging fatty abdomen) by using my antiperspirant on it every day, when I use it on underarms. I also had the problem between the breasts, and it worked on BOTH places.

I could not agree more. I worked as a CN for a long time and I know the benefits ofTea Tree Oil.

I was plagued with painful, sometimes bleeding athletes foot for 40 years. I used every cream and lotion on the market with barely any effect until I realized I had to keep the area between my toes dry. I finally came up with the solution I have been using for the last 20 years: every time I take my shoes off or put them on I draw my socks back and forth between my toes. I very seldom get an infection and if I do, it is light and clears up in a couple of days. I recommend that anyone plagued with athletes foot try this.

Is it safe to dab vinegar on jock fungal infections?

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