How can I get rid of foot fungus?

You can’t!

There’s a fungus among us—a hundred different species in fact—and nearly all take up residence on our feet, according to a study that appears in the journal Nature this week.

Only a few fungi species were found on other body parts known to house fungi—such as behind the ears and on palms—according to the most thorough analysis to date of our fungal “landscape.”

Ha. You’re probably better off leaving most of them alone. Click through for the details.

_____

Other posts of interest:

Also of interest: In Search of Sungudogo: A novel of adventure and mystery, which is also an alternative history of the Skeptics Movement.

Comments

  1. #1 Art
    May 22, 2013

    On a partially resistant, OTC stuff at $7 a small tube worked very slowly, and recurrent case of athlete’s foot, I had a friend, a science based friend (PhD doing research in chemistry), suggested vinegar. I poured plain, garden variety, $4 a gallon, white vinegar into a small hot sauce bottle and sprinkled it liberally over the affected area twice a day and let the vinegar dry.

    On the raw skin it burned like hell but the pain went away in a minute or two. After a couple of days the burning was less noticeable and in a week the areas were less inflamed and the application was essentially pain free. I kept applying vinegar long after it seemed to be cured. I pickled the bastards to death.

    The fungus hasn’t returned in a year but I keep the bottle of vinegar on hand.

    It was cheap, I had a gallon and some on hand, it was effective (in this case) and relatively non-toxic. All up-side.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    May 22, 2013

    Yeah, but maybe you killed the friendly fungus making room for the really bad fungus. It’s all about wars between different fugi. We animals are just part of the battlefield.

  3. #3 Art
    May 23, 2013

    I’m not sure what you are suggesting. Perhaps inaction? I should have been a stoic and put up with ever increasing burning and peeling until I bleed. Perhaps a nice blood infection if the fungi decided to go walkabout inside. I saw that once in the hospital. Nasty and expensive. An unacceptable situation.

    Or keep it up with the weak broad spectrum anti-fungal agents in OTC or, in more concentrated form, prescription agents. As I understand it most of them are potentially dangerous. If I remember right some of the prescription stuff is hard on the kidneys.

    It is conceivable something more serious could take root but that is the danger with any sort of change. And no, I really don’t think mere vinegar left the playing field unprotected. Pickle barrels are alive with bacteria and fungi as I understand it. I vaguely remember looking at some of the contents through a microscope.

    Likely I just shifted the balance a bit. I suspect toward friendlier sorts. But how do I know what I ended up with are friendlier? Simple, before the vinegar whatever was there was clearly eating my skin faster than I could grow it. Clearly after a weeks treatment I was growing skin faster than the critters present could eat it. I healed and the problem hasn’t returned. Clearly if any really nasty critters are present something, likely the other residents, are keeping them so busy their skin munching nature has no time to show. The good guys won and took up housekeeping.

    Based upon the bitterness of your reply, I do appreciate the personal reply, I suspect you need to lighten up … or something.

    And as long As we are about finer points, the article cited doesn’t actually say we should just leave them alone or avoid treating diseases. The metaphor was one of a garden and, my interpretation is that every garden can do with an some tending if the weeds start to take over.

  4. #4 sailor
    May 23, 2013

    Yes Greg, it is good to leave fungus alone as long as you don’t have symptoms. But once they eat into your skin making you sore and itchy time for a fungicide before secondary infections take over.

  5. #5 xdrfox
    Fl
    May 23, 2013

    I found out in the 70′s using Head&Shoulders hair shampoo works great, since then other brands have come on the market with the same anti fungus in ingredients and cheaper, just massage onto your feet, works fast !

  6. #6 Artor
    May 23, 2013

    I have occasionally recurring athlete’s foot fungus. If my shoes get wet, that will usually trigger a bloom, or if I go too long without thoroughly scrubbing between my toes. I use a blend of OTC fungus meds, hitting my feet with 2 different creams, and dusting my shoes with another powder, different active ingredients in all of them. My hope is to avoid the little critters developing a resistance to any one solution. I also used a garlic treatment once, oiling my feet and applying mashed garlic inside a plastic bag for a few hours. You could see my skin turn red as the garlic seeped through in a line rising from my ankles. It actually blistered my feet though, so I don’t recommend that method.
    My ex got an infection underneath her toenail from her dojo floor, and that has been persistent as hell, aside from making the toenail grow in a weird, mutated shape. A friend got a toenail torn off in the same dojo, and wanted to avoid that, so he used gentian violet to sterilize the nail bed. The toenail grew back in clean, but his toe was bright blue for 3 or 4 years after that.

  7. #7 Randy Stimpson
    United States
    May 23, 2013

    Vinegar also worked for me except that I took a few long hot baths with a gallon of vinegar added. It’s been almost ten years since I’ve had cracks between my toes. I suspect the problem was caused by not just fungus but a swarm of unfriendly fungus and bacteria working together.

    Strategies to improve your skin health in general will also help your body protect itself from unfriendly fungus. I have two strategies:

    1) Recently I’ve starting eating 4 tablespoons of raw sunflower seed kernels a day to make sure I fulfilled my vitamin E requirements and as a side effect I noticed over all improvement in skin health.

    2) I don’t have gluten intolerance but I noticed that removing gluten from my diet also improved skin quality. Perhaps I have sub clinical gluten intolerance.

  8. #8 G.
    California USA
    May 25, 2013

    Years ago I used to get a mild to moderate foot itch particularly in the hotter months, on the bottom of the feet, between the toes, etc.

    Then I just started washing my feet during showers, in a similar way as washing my hands after using the toilet. Soap and warm shower water, using my hands to get to all the surfaces of the feet, and getting my soapy fingers in between my toes.

    Itch gone, has not come back. I don’t recall how long it took to work, but I’d say a month would probably not be excessive either way. Washing my feet became routine, and no more itchy feet.

    Really: before going off to the wild blue yonder in search of remedies, start with the basics: soap and water and gentle scrubbing, every time you shower. Dry your feet with a towel and let them air dry before putting socks on. If expecting hot sweaty weather, put a little baby powder in your socks to help keep your feet dry.

    Fast showers are cutting corners. Take the time to wash every square inch of your body. This takes about 15 minutes including washing your hair. Starting with basic cleanliness gives your body’s normal microbial ecosystem the best basis to behave normally.

    The place to conserve water isn’t on basic sanitation including personal hygiene, it’s on needless frills such as lawns in desert climates such as California. But as for water conservation, I recycle my graywater from the laundry, to use for flushing the toilet, and that saves about 20% on total indoor water consumption. Thus no need to skimp on laundry or on toilet flushes either.

    All of this stuff is convergent. Good hygiene, good sanitation, and good conservation, all work together.

  9. #9 Stephen
    July 13, 2013

    I don’t get athelete’s feet (cracking and burning between the toes) very often, but in the last couple of years my left foot has just gotten rotten. My toenails are white and ugly and the sole of my left foot stays hard and cracked. My right foot is fine. Not a blemish on the sole or toenail. Any suggestions?

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    July 14, 2013

    I would see a doctor for that. Probably easily addressed but by a professional.

  11. #11 Timothy
    Staten island
    October 19, 2013

    I heard that soaking your feet in black tea is a good cure for foot fungus.
    I wanna find out if that is trrue.
    Also i wanna know if i soak my feet in baking soda is a good idea.
    My shoes are taking a beating from the fungus.
    Right now ia mgoing the black tes route and will try the vinegar next.
    Thanks
    timothy

  12. #12 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    October 20, 2013

    Skin is mostly acid (~pH 4 to 5). Anything that makes the skin alkaline is going to be bad for it. Baking soda is alkaline and I think would be bad for them.

    Vinegar is acid, so at least it won’t make your feet alkaline.

    But getting advice on medical matters from the internet is a bad idea. If you have any type of infection that is bad enough to seek advice for it, you should seek advice from professionals who have training and experience in dealing with such things.