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How to Fight Fungus with a Sock Soak

Wearing old socks soaked in vinegar and water might be easier than soaking your feet in a foot bath every day to fight fungus.
How to Fight Fungus with a Sock Soak
Apple vinegar. Bottle of apple organic vinegar on wooden background. Healthy organic food.

Have you ever had to fight fungus on your feet? The infection may show up between your toes or spread over the soles. To get rid of it, you may have tried an antifungal lotion or cream, such as clotrimazole, miconazole or tolnaftate. Perhaps you have developed a regimen for treating your shoes as well. Many People’s Pharmacy readers would prefer a home remedy, so long as it works. Here is one reader’s story.

Can You Fight Fungus Between the Toes?

Q. I have had trouble with fungal infections between my toes. I used clotrimazole, which seemed to help a bit.

What really cleared it up was apple cider vinegar. Once a week after bathing, I would use cotton wool with neat ACV applied to it. I wiped between my toes and the front part of my foot. My feet were better than ever after doing that.

I read that fungi have a protective coating around them that stops the immune system from killing them. ACV apparently breaks this protective coating down so your body can then kill the fungus.

Apple Cider Vinegar Against Foot Fungus:

A. Thanks for sharing your approach. Researchers have noted that acetic acid (vinegar) has antifungal properties (Sleven et al, Mycoses, May 2016).

Vinegar Sock Soak to Fight Fungus:

An intriguing recommendation was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Sept. 22, 2017).  The authors suggest a “vinegar sock soak.”

Here is their protocol:

“Each evening, patients go to a bathroom or other place with a vinegar-resistant floor, don old cotton socks, pour a few spoons of plain or apple-cider vinegar and a few spoons of water over the toes, and sit and read for 10-15 minutes. They then doff the socks, apply topical antifungals, and go to bed. In our experience, compliance, efficacy, and satisfaction are high with most patients achieving complete clinical responses within a year.”

We assume that most of these people were treating toenail fungus. That takes a year to eliminate, since the nails must grow out completely. We expect athlete’s foot infections to clear up far more quickly.

Although it is expressed in nonspecific language, it appears that the dermatologists are recommending a dilute vinegar solution. Many readers have tried soaking their feet in half vinegar and half water. That might also be a good proportion for the sock soak.

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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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