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Is Athlete's Foot A Fungal Infection?

Whether you are an athlete, someone who exercises regularly, or just someone who spends hours at the office in those sweaty shoes and socks, you are at equal risk of developing athlete’s foot.

Most people don't realize this but Athlete's Foot is part of a larger family of fungal infections that include nail fungus, jock itch, and ringworm.

Athlete’s foot may spread to the groin area and become jock itch, or the other way around. It can also spread to the nails and become nail fungus.

As a natural physician, my patients often seek advice on how to manage health concerns with natural remedies.

I have recently had an increased number of patients suffering with recurring Athlete's Foot and it prompted me to dig deeper into the best way to help them.

The questions that most of my patients are asking is, is Athlete's Foot a fungal infection and how do you get rid of it fast?

Yes, Athlete’s Foot is a fungus and is called tinea pedis. It is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It can also spread to the toenails and the hands.

It is called Athlete’s Foot because it’s commonly seen in athletes. Because it’s a fungus, it thrives in the moist, warm climate of your gym locker room, bathrooms, nail salons, pool areas and showers.

It’s possible for symptoms of athlete’s foot to clear up on their own. However, treatment is usually needed to get rid of the itchiness, skin flaking and redness. The most effective home remedies include using essential oils, apple cider vinegar, and topical natural, antifungal sprays.

I have compiled a comprehensive list of the most effective natural remedies to get relief from Athlete's Foot for good. But before we get into that, let's answer some other questions you may have about the condition.

Dr. Angela Walk

Wellness Physician

Founder of Nashville Organix

What Are The Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot

The most common symptoms of athlete’s foot include a scaly rash that usually causes an itching and burning sensation around the affected area, often between the toes.

  • An itchy, burning, and stinging sensation between the toes

  • Itching or burning sensation on the soles of your feet

  • Itchy blisters on the feet

  • Cracking and peeling skin between the toes and on the soles of your feet

  • Dry skin on the soles and/or sides of the feet

  • The skin on your feet becomes raw

  • Discolored, thick, and crumbly toenails

  • Toenails that pull away from your nail bed

What Causes Athlete’s Foot?

What causes athlete's foot ~ Dr. Angela Walk

The main cause of athlete’s foot is a fungal infection caused by the growth of tinea fungus on your feet. You can contract it on direct contact with an infected individual or object.

Since this fungus thrives in moist and warm environments, it can be commonly found in showers, locker room floors, and around swimming pools.

Although everyone is susceptible to developing athlete’s foot, some people are at an increased risk. Factors that increase your risk of developing athlete’s foot are:

  • Walking barefoot in public places including showers, exercise mats, swimming pool, and gym floors. Especially if you have sweaty feet. You are more likely to attract fungus and bacteria.

  • Not cleansing your feet and between your toes with soap. Many people think that running the water over your feet while showering is enough. It isn't.

  • Showering without footwear in public showers.

  • Sharing socks, shoes, or towel with an infected person

  • Going to nail salons that share utensils without sterilizing them. If unsterilized utensils are used with an infected person the fungus can be transferred from person to person.

  • Wearing socks and shoes for long periods of time. Fungus and bacteria grow more readily in damp, moist and warm environments. Waterproof and rubber boots are especially prone to harbor more moisture.

  • Wearing tight fitting, closed toe shoes

  • Having feet that generally sweat more

Athlete’s foot can be classified into different types depending on the kind of infection and the area of the foot affected. The three main types of athlete’s foot are discussed below.

Types Of Athlete’s Foot

  • Interdigital: This type of infection occurs between your toes and can spread to the soles.

  • Moccasin: This type appears as dry, peeling skin on the sole of your foot and can spread to the sides.

  • Vesicular: This is the least common type of athlete’s foot. It is categorized by a sudden outbreak of fluid-filled blisters on the bottoms of your feet, but can also appear between your toes, or on the heels.

Is Athlete's Foot Contagious?

Is athlete's foot contagious? Dr. Angela Walk

Yes, athlete’s foot is highly contagious. Direct contact with infected individuals or objects can cause it to spread. It can spread from person to person, but also to other parts of your body.

If the patient scratches the affected area and touches other parts of the body, the infection can spread. After touching the affected area, it is important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Be sure to avoid sharing socks, shoes, or towel with an infected person.

How Long Does Athlete’s Foot Last?

Depending on the course of treatment, it can take anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks to heal completely. You will start noticing a positive change in your condition in a week.

The following home remedies can help in treating athlete’s foot and speeding up your recovery.

Can Athlete's Foot Cause Nail Fungus?

Untreated athlete’s foot can spread to toenails in a condition known as onychomycosis. Nail fungus begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail.

As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can affect several nails.


Natural Remedies To Treat Athlete’s Foot


1. Apple Cider Vinegar Soak

2. Try Essential Oils ~ Tea Tree & Lavender

3. Wear Breathable Socks & Alternate Shoes

4. Wash Your Feet With Anti-Fungal Soap To Kill The Fungus

5. Apply Topical Anti-Fungal Spray To Relieve Itching & Pain

6. Wear Shoes That Fit Well

7. Keep Your Skin Dry

8. Maintain A Healthy Immune System

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe For Athlete's Foot

Apple cider vinegar soak for athlete's foot

Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties and is an excellent natural remedy to destroy the fungal infection responsible for causing athlete’s foot. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can prove to be quite useful in reducing the inflammation and pain.

I recommend an organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar that includes the "mother" which contains the friendly bacteria and beneficial probiotics. The brand I recommend is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.


  1. Add two cups of warm/hot water in a bowl and 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar.

  2. Soak your feet in this solution for 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Dry feet thoroughly.

  4. Soak twice daily for best results

  5. Alternatively, you can also add a 1/3 cup of Epsom Salt to the mixture as it also has healing benefits to skin conditions.

2. Essential Oils For Athlete's Foot Tea Tree & Lavender

Essential oils for athlete's foot ~ Dr. Angela Walk

Essential oils have antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties and are an excellent source of fighting the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

The best essential oils for Athlete's Foot include tea tree and lavender. This combination of oils also has anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing inflammation, swelling, pain, and itch relief.

Tea Tree offers strong anti-viral support and can significantly combat skin irritations. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and can promote wound healing.

Lavender is also useful with pain and preventing the spread of the fungal infections on the skin. Lavender has anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic properties.

This makes the combination of tea tree and lavender oils ideal for promoting skin health, relieving painful irritation, and even providing soothing and calming effects on the body and mind.

  1. Add 10 drops of each (tea tree, lavender) to 10 mL of any carrier oil (coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil).

  2. Apply this mixture directly to the affected area on your foot and allow it to dry.

  3. Apply 3 times per day

Alternatively, you can add the oil mixture to two cups of water and soak your feet in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Soak 2 to 3 times daily.

3. Wear Breathable Socks & Change Shoes Often

Breathable shoes for athlete's foot ~ Dr. Angela Walk

  • Wear socks made of a breathable fibers like cotton, silk, wool, or made out of synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from your skin.

  • Change your socks several times per day if necessary. Especially after exercise or if you tend to have sweaty feet.

  • Also alternate your shoes daily. Your shoes need to have plenty of time to dry out before you wear them again. Also wear shoes made with breathable materials. Avoid rubber or waterproof boots.

  • Remove shoes as soon as exercise or sports has ended.

  • Air out your feet when you are at home by going barefoot as much as possible.

4. Washing With Anti-fungal Soaps

Antifungal soap for athlete's foot ~ Dr. Angela Walk

Wash your feet with antifungal soap and water twice daily. Be sure to wash between your toes. Using an antifungal soap is one of the most effective ways to combat the virus.

This particular brand also include antifungal essential oils to further aid in soothing discomfort and itching. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly after each cleansing.

5. Applying Topical Anti-fungal Sprays

Itch fix ~ athlete's foot and jock itch remedy ~ Dr. Angela Walk

Nobody wants to experience the constant itchiness, burning and pain that usually accompany this condition. Applying a topical cream or spray to address the issue is ideal. Topical means it is applied directly onto the skin.

Scratching the Athlete's Foot rash can cause scarring and prolong blisters. Using soothing topical creams can calm persistent itching.

Most of the topical creams on the market are full of unnatural ingredients and do not provide deeper healing.

Avoid lotions that include toxic chemicals such as parabens or synthetic fragrances they can cause further irritation.

I handcrafted an organic topical spray that contains all natural ingredients such as avocado oil, vitamin E, sweet almond oil, aloe vera, and healing essential oils.

We've taken the guesswork out of combing natural ingredients and essential oils to calm itching, soothe painful skin, and prevent spreading.

6. Wear Shoes That Fit Well

Most people wear shoes that are too tight and they don’t realize that closed-toe shoes, especially those that are narrow in the toe box, can cause trauma to your toenails, which can weaken your nails and make them more susceptible to a toenail fungal infection

Also, wearing shoes that are thick or tight are more likely to trigger athlete’s foot because they squeeze the toes together, creating ideal conditions for the fungus to thrive.

7. Keep Your Skin Dry

Keep you feet and skin dry with athlete's foot ~ Dr. Angela Walk

Keep your skin dry, and don’t forget to dry between the toes after bathing, exercising, or sweating. A lot of people don’t dry between the toes, so the skin stays wet, which can lead to infection.

8. Keep A Healthy Immune System

Many people are not aware that chronic fungal infections may be a sign of a chronic gut or other systemic candida virus or yeast within your system.

This overgrowth of yeast can develop from a number of factors, including antibiotic use, poor digestion, low immune system function, a high sugar and grain diet, stress or hormonal changes.

A quality probiotic supplement will help you get rid of the yeast and candida in your system that could be the root cause of your fungus.

Keeping a healthy immune system will help to fight off fungal infections. The supplements I recommend to support immunity are a high quality multi, vitamin D3, vitamin C, and a probiotic for gut health.

Summary: Final Thoughts and Encouragement

You don't need to accept Athlete's Foot as a regular part of life. Athlete’s foot infections generally respond very well to natural treatment.

With the help of the remedies and prevention tips we have provided in this article, you will not just be able to fight an existing athlete’s foot infection but also steer clear of it in the future.

We hope that you find our posts helpful and please feel free to forward this information to anyone who might have questions about natural living. We strive to educate our patients on all aspects of health.

If you have a question or need more information on a particular topic, please post in the comments or contact Dr. Angela directly. We look forward to hearing from you!

Best of Health,

Dr. Angela


PLEASE NOTE: I ONLY recommend products, supplements & essential oils in my posts that I have personally crafted and know exactly what is in them, or I have recommended to my patients and trust the efficacy and quality.

Epsom Salt

Multi-Strain Probiotic

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Hi, I'm Dr. Angela Walk

I have been involved in the health and wellness industry for over 20 years as a wellness physician and holistic nutrition coach.

I have written extensively for health publications and I am keenly aware of trends and new developments in the area of health and wellness.

I embrace an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices. By working to inform readers of the options available to them, I hope to improve your health and quality of life.

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