If you have been diagnosed with foot fungus, it is highly likely you are suffering from a number of common symptoms. Your toes are itchy all the time and, the more you scratch, the higher the risk of your skin cracking and the infection progressing. The burning sensation can become quite intense and your toenails change their color, being either white or yellow. In time, they can also modify their texture, curling or lifting themselves from the nail bed.
Fungal infections can cause toenails to thicken and become brittle or crumbly at the same time. If the infection is left untreated, the fungus will only develop, spreading to other toenails and causing painful sores or even bleeding in-between the toes. In time, the infected toenails can die, presenting a greenish-black discoloration. The good news is that it is possible to get rid of the foot fungus quite rapidly, especially if you will follow the recommendations made in this article.
Footwear is more important than you might think
Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors that contribute to the appearance of fungal infections is inadequate footwear. People wear shoes for prolonged periods of time, the excess moisture and warmth representing perfect conditions in which the fungi can thrive and develop. Moreover, fungal infections are more common in people who wear worn-out or ill-fitting shoes, as these create an ideal environment for the development of these microorganisms.
You can significantly improve the symptomatology you are experiencing by changing your footwear on a daily basis. Avoid wearing shoes that are worn out or those that are too narrow, for reasons already mentioned. In summer, when the temperatures are on the rise and sweating is a common occurrence, choose breathable shoes or even stick with those with open toes.
Avoid footwear that is made from synthetic materials and concentrate on wearing shoes that have inside fabrics that can absorb excess moisture (and thus take away the condition that allow fungal infections to thrive).
According to an article regarding the treatment of onychomycosis, patients should be educated on how to follow proper foot hygiene. The article draws attention to the importance of wearing footwear that allows the foot the possibility to breathe, as well as socks that are made from cotton.
Dry feet promote a faster elimination of the fungal infection
If you have been diagnosed with a fungal infection, one of the most important things that you have to do is keep your feet dry. This is most difficult for someone who spends the majority of his/her day wearing shoes, but it has to be done. By keeping your feet dry, you are practically eliminating the conditions in which the fungus thrives and thus promote the faster clearing of the infection.
You can use baby powder, in order to keep the space between the toes dry (this is the area where the fungus tends to develop, causing painful cracks, sores and bleeding). Also, if you know yourself to sweat a lot, it is recommended to place small bits of facial tissues between the those. These have to be changed frequently throughout the day, in order to maintain the space between the toes 100% dry. Also, remember, after you have washed your feet, it is important to use a clean towel and dry them as thoroughly as you possibly can (without being too aggressive, as this will cause further damage to the toenails or to the skin around them).
The same article that was mentioned above, published in the Journal of the American Family Physician, discusses about patient education, in regard to keeping one’s feet dry. According to this article, patients should take every cautionary measures to maintain their toes dry. Moreover, they should use foot protection whenever they are visiting public facilities, such as showers, locker rooms or gyms.
Immune system boosting
Often times, the boosting of the immune system can help improve the symptoms caused by the fungal infection. This is quite logical, especially if you stop and think about how a weakened immune system can increase the susceptibility to such infections. The immune system can be made stronger by following a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. However, you can also take vitamin and mineral supplements, in order to support a strong and infection-resistant immune system.
Boosting the immune system becomes even more essential in patients who are immunocompromised, suffering from various underlying conditions. According to a study regarding the pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of onychomycosis, the fungal infection that can occurs in patients having a weak immune system, as it happens with AIDS, can lead to serious complications. Moreover, the risk of infection is higher in such patients.
Physical exercise for increased blood flow
Even though fungal infections are common in professional athletes, this does not mean that sedentary people cannot be diagnosed with such problems. On the contrary, people who lead a sedentary lifestyle present a reduced blood flow in their feet, a feature which makes them susceptible for such infections. In the situation that such an infection has occurred, increasing the amount of daily physical exercise might speed up the healing process.
Natural remedies, excellent solutions for rapid removal of foot fungus
No matter how amazing it may sound, natural remedies represent an excellent solution against foot fungus. One of the most recommended choices is garlic; the active substance contained in this natural remedy is ajoene, being well-known for its antifungal properties. In order to benefit from its excellent properties, all you have to do is crush several garlic cloves and cook them in olive oil. Strain the resulting oil and apply it on the affected toes, using cotton balls. The application should be maintained for about half an hour. The remedy can be applied twice per day, until you notice positive results.
Another excellent remedy that you can try out and which provides fast results is the vinegar foot soak. Everyone knows that vinegar is an acidic substance, which can alter the environment in which the foot fungus thrives. You can easily prepare a vinegar foot soak by mixing water with apple cider vinegar (in equal quantities). Then, soak your feet in the resulting mixture for about half an hour. When done, wash your feet with warm, soapy water and use a clean towel to dry them thoroughly.
According to a study regarding the treatment of toenail fungus, it seems that vinegar is an excellent natural remedy to try out. In the respective study, the patient followed a treatment with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (alternate days). The first results were noticeable within a couple of weeks, the fungal infection being eliminated completely in several months.
In another study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the active substance contained in garlic – ajoene – was administered as treatment of foot fungus, its effects being compared to prescription medication (terbinafine). The study confirmed that ajoene, an active substance isolated from garlic, could successfully be used in the short-term treatment of foot fungus. Moreover, ajoene was more effective than terbinafine in improving the symptomatology experienced by patients diagnosed with such fungal infections.
Garlic has represented a matter of interest for other researchers as well, being confirmed in another study as a suitable anti-candida agent. The study in question wanted to determine whether fresh garlic or freeze-dried extracts are more suitable for the treatment of foot fungus and other fungal infections. It was confirmed that the fresh garlic has a higher level of efficacy whereas the treatment of such infections is concerned.
What other measures you can take?
It is clear that you can take prescription medication, but you have to remember that oral antifungal medication takes a long time to clear up the infection and it can cause discomforting side-effects. Topical treatments, such as the medicated nail polish or cream, require a long time to work as well, but they do not present side-effects.
If the infection has progressed to the toenails, the doctor might recommend the surgical removal, as a quick and definite solution to the problem. This is an outpatient procedure and it is performed in cases of severe infection, with pain and other discomforting symptoms. After the removal of the infected toenail(s), the anti-fungal treatment of the nail bed is necessary. The patient is educated to be patient, as it can take up to one year for the healthy nail to grow back.
As you have seen, it is possible to get rid of foot fungus quickly. What you need to do is educate yourself to follow excellent foot care, eliminating the conditions that could favor the development of the fungus. Moreover, you should turn to natural remedies for a speedy healing process, especially since these are highly effective and do not have any side-effects that you should worry about. And, remember, it is essential to change your footwear on a daily basis, avoiding shoes that are either too worn out or constrictive, favoring the development of fungal microorganisms.
 Treating Onychomycosis. Journal of American Family Physician. 2001, 63(4). Retrieved from: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/0215/p663.html
 Onychomycosis: pathogenesis, diagnosis and management. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 1998, 11(3). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88888/
 The efficacy of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in treating toenail fungus: a case study. 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.michaelandjudystouffer.com/judy/articles/toenailfungus.htm
 Efficacy of ajoene in the treatment of tinea pedis. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2000, 43(5). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11050588?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=1
 Garlic as an anti-candida agent. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2002, 93(3). Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12174037?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=1
Amy is a foot massage therapist that has worked with doctors specializing in podiatry while helping numerous clients through various foot conditions. She has reviewed 100s of related foot health products for plantar fasciitis, toenail fungus and more.