Athlete's Foot

Athlete's Foot

What is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot (also known as jock itch or fungal skin infections) is a contagious skin infection.  Athlete's foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection that primarily affects the skin on the feet. It's caused by various types of fungi, including those belonging to the genus Trichophyton. Athlete's foot is highly contagious and often spreads in warm, moist environments such as locker rooms, public showers, and swimming pools. 

Common symptoms of athlete's foot include: 

Itching: The affected area of the foot, especially between the toes, can become intensely itchy. 

Redness and Scaling: The skin may appear red, inflamed, and dry, with flaky or peeling skin that may crack or blister. 

Burning Sensation: Some individuals experience a burning or stinging sensation on the affected skin. 

Fissures: In severe cases, athlete's foot can lead to the development of small cracks or fissures in the skin, which can be painful and prone to infection. 

Odor: The infection can sometimes produce an unpleasant odor due to the presence of fungi and bacteria. 

Athlete's foot can vary in severity, from mild cases with minor itching to more severe cases with painful symptoms. It's important to address athlete's foot promptly to prevent its spread to other areas of the body and to avoid complications.



Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers several natural remedies that have been used to address skin conditions like athlete's foot. Keep in mind that while these remedies have been used traditionally, scientific research on their effectiveness is limited, and individual responses can vary. If you're considering using Chinese remedies for athlete's foot, consult a qualified healthcare professional before trying them. Here are some natural Chinese remedies that are often associated with skin health:

Tea Tree Oil: While not exclusive to Chinese medicine, tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties that may help combat the fungi responsible for athlete's foot.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. A paste made from turmeric and water can be applied to the affected area to potentially alleviate symptoms.

Honeysuckle Flower (Lonicera japonica): Honeysuckle flower has been used in TCM for its potential to clear heat and detoxify. It may be applied topically to help alleviate inflammation and discomfort.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera gel, known for its soothing properties, can be applied to the affected area to relieve itching and inflammation.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Calendula, also known as marigold, has anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe irritated skin.

Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis): Known as "Huang Qin," Chinese skullcap has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects that may be beneficial for skin health.

Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Licorice root contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. It may help relieve itching and discomfort.

Sesame Oil: Sesame oil, when infused with herbs like Chinese skullcap or honeysuckle flower, can be applied topically to moisturize and soothe the affected area.

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa): Burdock root has been used in TCM for its detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties. It might be applied topically to help alleviate symptoms.

Vinegar Soaks: Soaking your feet in a mixture of warm water and vinegar (such as rice vinegar) may create an environment less favorable for fungal growth.

Remember that herbal remedies can interact with medications and may not be suitable for everyone. Consult a qualified TCM practitioner or healthcare professional before using these remedies for athlete's foot. Proper foot hygiene and maintaining dry feet are also essential in managing and preventing fungal infections. 

To prevent athlete's foot: 

Keep your feet clean and dry, especially between the toes.
Wear moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes.
Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like locker rooms and pool decks.
Rotate your shoes to allow them to dry out between uses.
Use antifungal powders or sprays on your feet and inside your shoes.
Change socks if they become damp.
Wash your feet daily and dry them thoroughly, paying attention to the spaces between the toes.
If over-the-counter treatments do not provide relief, or if the infection worsens, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional. In some cases, prescription-strength antifungal medications may be necessary. 

What are the symptoms of athlete's foot?

Athletes foot and fungal infections are easily recognized by an unpleasant odor, moist or red patches, cracking, blistered, or peeling areas especially in between the toes. As the infection progresses, the skin grows soft and the center of the infection becomes inflamed and sensitive to the touch. Gradually, the edges of the infected area become milky white and the skin begins to peel. A slight watery discharge also may be present.

What causes athlete's foot?

The fungus that causes the athlete's foot is called Trichophyton rubrum and can thrive on the upper layers of skin. The infection spreads by direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. As the infection spreads, it may affect the soles of the feet or the toenails. The affected skin is also more vulnerable to bacteria that can lead to skin infections. Common areas where the fungus my thrive are locker rooms, pool, saunas, health clubs, public showers, and hot tubs.



Bland, Jeffrey, and Donald R. Davis. Medical Applications of Clinical Nutrition. New Canaan, CT: Keats Pub., 1983. Print.

Herrera-Arellano A, Rodriguez-Soberanes A, de los Angeles Martinez-Rivera M, Martinez-Cruz E, Zamilpa A, Alvarez L, Tortoriello J. Effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized phytodrug derived from Solanum chrysotrichum on Tinea pedis: a controlled and randomized clinical trial. Planta Med. 69.5 (2003): 390-395.

Rector-Page, Linda G. Linda Page's Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-healing for Everyone. Carmel Valley, CA: Healthy Healing, 2004


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