The People's Perspective on Medicine

Going Barefoot Cleared Up Athlete’s Foot

Exposing the feet to light and air by going barefoot instead of wearing shoes all summer helped eliminate an athlete's foot infection.
Bare feet laying on green grass background

Athlete’s foot is a very common skin problem, causing itching and sometimes discomfort. The skin between the toes or elsewhere on the foot sometimes becomes very irritated and peels or cracks, which is when the condition becomes painful.

Although it can be all too easy to catch athlete’s foot by going barefoot in a public shower or changing room, there are also some pretty easy ways to bid it goodbye. That is what this reader discovered as a teenager:

Q. When I was in high school, I developed a case of athlete’s foot from not drying my feet properly after gym class.

Going Barefoot

My doctor back then told me to go barefoot for the summer. He said the sun would knock the infection out and I would not have a problem.

Well, that summer I went barefoot every chance I got. I got a beautiful tan while playing or just doing summer activities, and my feet were tanned too.

There was no more athlete’s foot bothering me and I have not had athlete’s foot ever since.

Athlete’s Foot Fungus

A. Athlete’s foot is usually caused by a fungal infection (Trichophyton rubrum). This organism, like most other fungi, loves dark damp places, which is why it thrives between the toes.

Eliminating the darkness and the damp by going barefoot in the summer is an easy fix.

Keep in mind, though, that going barefoot inside (in a shower room, for example) with an active case of athlete’s foot could spread it to others. Wearing flip-flops would be thoughtful.

Foot Baths

There are a number of other simple home remedies that can help with athlete’s foot if going barefoot or wearing sandals is not a practical option. Many people report that soaking the feet regularly in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water can make the skin inhospitable to fungus.

Others like to add a bit of Listerine to the soak. The herbal oils in Listerine have antifungal activity, which is why Listerine is also helpful against some cases of nail fungus.

Another individual soaks the affected feet in a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and nine parts water. Just one soaking session usually keeps the athlete’s foot away for months.

Rate this article
4.1- 21 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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.

Showing 6 comments
Add your comment

10 years ago I had toe nail fungus. I soaked my feet in listerine and vinegar 50/50 solution for 1hr a day for a week. It sounds like a long time but I was stubborn and really wanted to get rid of it. Especially living in Hawaii where everyone wears flip flops.

The time depends on how much someone is able to stand the stinging from the mixture. It really worked for me. I’m hoping to use it now to get rid of my athletes foot. My Dr was amazed especially since he wanted to give me a RX that probably wasn’t going to work and my body had toxins I needed to get rid of.

I’ve never had athlete’s foot or anything like it, but I do go barefoot almost all the time every summer. I ascribe to “earthing,” which posits that going barefoot on dirt, grass, sand or concrete (but not asphalt) allows the body to pick up subtle electromagnetic energy from the earth’s core and provides numerous health benefits (especially cardiac benefits). I can’t say for sure that it works, but I do feel great after going barefoot and my heart has never felt stronger. (I used to have atrial fibrillation which has been repaired.) Anyone interested should google “earthing!” Also, by fall, the soles of my feet are kinda like shoe leather and I can walk anywhere (barefoot) in total comfort.

I rub a little Vicks VapoRub between my toes while I’m trying to control my toenail fungus and my athlete’s foot has been cured for several years. I wish I could say the same for the toenail fungus…

“soaking the feet regularly in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts vinegar can make the skin inhospitable to fungus.”

Do you mean water in place of one of the vinegars above? Which one?

Will plain white vinegar work fine here, the same as I use for general cleaning, or do I need apple cider vinegar? (Which has a more lingering smell.)


Mistake in the writing – Many people report that soaking the feet regularly in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts vinegar can make the skin inhospitable to fungus.

“one part vinegar to two parts vinegar can make the skin inhospitable to fungus.” I think you mean one part vinegar to two parts water.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^