I’ve been struggling with my health this year, due to a weakened immune system from a surgery I had in the Spring. Diseases that aren’t that bad affect me in horrible ways. Things that don’t affect normal, healthy people trigger illness in me.
One awful thing I got lately? Athlete’s foot…and HANDS!!! Yes, it can happen and it’s as awful as it sounds! This is embarrassing to admit – most people I know in real life had no idea I got it. But I think it’s important to write this out for whoever may stumble upon it on the internet, in case what I learned may benefit them.
This is gonna be a massive product review article as well, for things relating to treating Athlete’s Foot. Basically everything you see in the above pic; Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap, Micatin, Jojoba Oil, and Tea Tree Oil. These are all based on my personal experience with them.
How I got Athlete’s Foot (and hands….)
I got Athlete’s Foot from my boyfriend a few weeks ago, when I borrowed a pair of socks from him to go bowling. He buys Women’s ankle socks…..and I had borrowed a pair before too, so I thought it would be totally okay. Difference was, I borrowed a fresh pair before…and this pair was definitely used. That’s the thing with fungus, they are HARD to get rid of!! Especially the spores. Some people get so frustrated they just chuck all their old socks and buy a bag of new ones – a good move, a safe one. It’s not like white socks are expensive. It was only a couple hours after wearing the socks that my feet started getting so itchy it drove me mad. I took off my shoes, the socks, and scratched like crazy….without thinking of the consequences. Eventually I checked my sock for irritants….and what did I find? My heel and inner ankle were itchy….and exactly in those spots on the sock, was a very telling yellowed sweat stain. From my boyfriend. He later admitted to having Athlete’s Foot before, but it usually passed on its own and without much fuss.
Well. Me and my weak immune system, we did NOT react without a fuss!!!! The infection stayed in my ankle-heel area of my foot, but was excruciatingly itchy. For a couple days, nothing seemed wrong with my hands…but I did note a strange dry, bumpiness beginning to develop at the base of my ring finger. By the third day, my right hand and some of my left hand was dry, scaly, and heavily infected. I began to freak out, afraid to touch anything, including myself. I wasn’t sure how to even BATHE myself at this point, without spreading more horrible fungus on myself.
Initial, Conventional Medicine Treatments From the Pharmacy
The Athlete’s Foot shelf in the pharmacy is something I’ve passed by my whole life. You always see commercials for sprays and such to relieve the itching tinea brings. All those multi-million dollar advertising campaigns worked – I went to the pharmacy first thing in the morning and bought an anti-fungal cream. Now, I have no idea which one is more powerful than the other. I read the backs and they all have the same functions, the same restrictions, just different chemicals (but in basically the same amounts) that are anti-fungal agents. So I picked Micatin, since it was the middle-priced option, and immediately spread it all over my feet and hands once I got out of the pharmacy.
The tube is TINY. My feet aren’t that big, I’m a size 38 in shoes (US size 7ish, sometimes an 8), which is pretty average for women. Even if I didn’t have to spread it over my hands, I don’t think there would be enough in this tiny tube for my feet to last twice a day, for 4 weeks. The cream isn’t really that spreadable, and it didn’t soak in to my skin all that well. I paid $8 and I would not buy it again, but at the time I was panicking. I don’t recommend it. Although I haven’t tried them, I suspect the other creams in the pharmacy would be similar.
Things That Worked: Natural Remedies
It wasn’t my initial reaction to jump to natural remedies….I think it’s healthy to be skeptical of “old wives tales” and possible snake oils. But the cream was so unsatisfactory, I gave this stuff a shot…and I’m SO GLAD I DID!! It’s what cured me. I ended up buying a few things.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps – Pure Castile Soap with Tea Tree Oil
One use and I became an instant zealot for this product! I can’t believe I didn’t use this sooner, even before tinea, in lieu of conventional soap! This is a liquid soap that is oil based, primarily coconut oil for this brand. They come scented with several oils, like Lavender and Peppermint – I chose Tea Tree Oil because Tea Tree Oil is anti-fungal. With my skin aching, I rushed and just bought a HUGE bottle at the pharmacy for $17 (32oz). I felt way cleaner washing with this than with normal soap, to my surprise, and in a couple of days my skin aches from the itching were gone. Within a week of use, everything got better!
I also saw on a lot of reviews that people with Athlete’s foot and ringworm have used it with success, and you’ll have to keep using anti-fungal stuff for weeks after your skin clears up. So this is a good investment. It’s just efficient to have your daily shower be the place you ensure tinea does NOT return.
Another unexpected benefit – I started washing my face and neck with castile soap as well, because I was afraid I’ve touched my face with infected hands. And it’s made my face skin SOOOO incredibly soft!!! Soft, smooth, I…I don’t know how. It’s probably due to the coconut oil in it. I’m amazed through and through. I’ve also read online that castile soap is known to do this, compared to regular soap, because it’s oil based. And no, oil on your face doesn’t make you more oily…that’s a misconception and part of fear mongering in facial care products. The cause of oily skin is a little more complicated than “put oil on your face and you become more oily”. Anyway, I don’t want to get in to that, it’s a whole different topic. The point is, regular soap has these detergents and residues that get left behind; that doesn’t happen when you wash with oil. It lathers up better than any regular soap I’ve tried too – Dr. Bronner’s site notes that phenomenon is due to the coconut oil content. Well, whatever is going on……it’s got all the proper organic labels, it’s economically safe, and it makes me feel clean and look great. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this product.
Total. Holy. Grail.
Tea Tree / Jojoba Oil Moisturizer Solution
This is the second thing that saved my skin. One of the things that really bothered me about Micatin was that it did not soothe all the symptoms. Aside from being itchy, the biggest problem my infected hands suffered was dryness and scaling. They were so dry, I couldn’t lay my palm flat for fear of cracking the skin. And cracking the skin can lead to even more (bacterial) infection! So I turned again to natural remedies….I rushed after work to GNC, a vitamin and health supplement chain, but again ordering online or locally will probably net you a better price. I was desperate and in pain. Tea tree Oil is expensive, but it’s important to get a good one – 100% Tea Tree Oil. Do not settle for less! GNC actually was cheaper than this other indie pharmacy I passed by in Park Slope. Anyway, I got some Tea Tree Oil, and though it’s a class anti-fungal oil…..it doesn’t spread well. And it’s so expensive, I really didn’t want to just be dumping capfulls of it over my hands and feet to cover everything! So I bought some Jojoba Oil too! Jojoba is a lot cheaper, is also anti-fungal, and spreads very well – hence why it’s often used as a massage oil. Grapeseed Oil is another option, and even cheaper than jojoba, but it’s not anti-fungal. I wanted every ingredient in my homemade moisturizer to be anti-fungal, because if I can, why not?
I got an empty squirt bottle (an old face wash bottle) and mixed the two in together. The ratios don’t have to be exact, but you can be REALLY conservative with tea tree oil. I put a 3:7 ratio of tea tree oil to jojoba, and even with that you can really smell the tea tree oil. Every morning, I’d spread it over my hands and feet, slip on my flip flops, and head to work. It’s lucky that it’s summer so I can wear flip flops and not have to deal with socks and shoes, and infecting those things. Sunlight’s UV rays kill fungus, so that’s an added advantage of exposing your feet. At night, I’d spread more oil on myself when watching TV after dinner. It’s a bad idea to walk around your house with it on you, you’ll ick things up and probably slip, so sit around for 10 minutes, relax, then wipe it off with a tissue.
How Long Did it Take To Go Away?
I first got infected 2 weeks ago….it took me 3 days to realize what was going on and buy the first tube of anti-fungal cream. After I switched to the natural remedy stuff, I’d say it was another 2 days before the skin aches went away. My hands, while still dry, were no longer uncomfortably so – I could function and work without issue. Seeing improvements in 2 days is incredible.
I’m still washing with castile soap and covering my hands and feet in oil at night, but the fungus is fading away. My skin is healing, my left hand is completely cured and looks normal. My feet are completely cured. My right hand is the straggler, but the one who was the most intensely infected. Any dryness has receded to just the base of my ring and middle finger, where the infection began. The rest of my right hand is smooth as it used to be….my boyfriend, who’s had Athlete’s foot before, tells me this is how it goes. Your old, damaged skin gets dry and just sloughs off, and new, healthy skin replaces it. That’s what’s happening right now. I’m still continuing with the oil and such just in case, because I don’t want a relapse, but things are going well. I think 2 weeks is not bad at all, especially considering the Micatin cream wanted me to use it for 4 weeks.
Hope my story helps at least one person out there. If you have any questions, and it’s within my ability to answer, feel free to ask. Remember, I’m not a doctor, so I just have my experience with the above products.