Making a medical appointment can be a hassle. Finding a reliable practitioner, and one that isn’t always booked up, can be a huge challenge (especially in Toronto), and taking time off work in the middle of the day means having to move meetings around. On top of that, we have trade in the cozy, work-from-home track suit and put on – gasp – a pair of jeans. Rough. So, it’s understandable why it’s sometimes tempting to try and treat infections at home.
However, while the internet might tell you otherwise, this is not a good solution for fungal foot infections. Foot fungal infections are not only contagious – they’re extremely stubborn and difficult to treat. Home remedies and over-the-counter solutions are often no match for the fungus hiding behind your nailbed or trapped in your shoes. At-home solutions are more likely to result in recurring or worsening symptoms, and there’s no bigger hassle than an infection that simply won’t go away.
What is a Fungal Foot Infection?
What is a fungal foot infection? Well, it’s a skin infection on the foot or toenail caused by a fungus. One common example is athlete’s foot, which often manifests as a scaley, red rash or translucent, moist skin between toes. Other symptoms can include itching, stinging, burning, and skin that’s dry, cracked, or peeling. Another common fungal foot infection is fungal toenails. With fungal toenails, you might notice nail discoloration (yellow, brown, or white), nail thickening, and a fragile or brittle nail. Both infections can cause foot odor (not ideal).
Can You Ignore a Fungal Infection?
Now in the grand scheme of things, you might notice these symptoms and not think much of them. Sometimes these infections aren’t even that painful. With all the extremely serious health dangers out there – like heart attacks or cancer – it might be easy to write this off as not a big deal. However, while lots of people think foot fungus is just a cosmetic problem, there can be significant health consequences to not getting proper treatment.
Fungal infections can spread, and this might cause an initially not-super-noticeable infection to get seriously painful. Sometimes it can even make it difficult to perform daily tasks like walking or wearing shoes. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your foot or leg, your other foot, or nearby areas like the groin (ouch). For people with diabetes or certain other conditions that weaken the immune system, the risk of untreated infections entering the blood stream through cracked skin could lead, on the extreme end, to life-threatening complications.
Do At-Home Remedies Work?
Okay, so leaving these infections untreated is a bad idea. But can we avoid the dreaded journey out of the house? The short answer is no – foot fungus can rarely be eradicated and fully treated at home.
There’s good reason to be wary of the many home remedy suggestions found online, and not only because some of them are pretty bizarre. The idea of treating fungal toenails by chopping up garlic and placing it on your toe for 30 minutes a day just sounds like replacing one odor with another. Before you go out and buy Vicks VapoRub, mouthwash, or oregano oil to put on your fungal foot infection, it’s important to know that these home treatments typically don’t work. Fungal foot infections are notoriously stubborn and persistent, particularly ones that occur around the toenails – they’re not going to let a little bit of garlic get them down.
What About Over-The-Counter Medications?
Even over-the-counter medications that can be bought at drug stores only help with the symptoms of minor, early-stage fungal infections. When the fungus is around the toenail, sometimes these anti-fungals can’t even reach the area that most needs treatment. Foot fungus likes to hide behind the toenails and grows in the moisture-rich environment in our shoes and socks. While home remedies or over-the-counter medication might relieve symptoms for a short period of time, it’s more than likely that they’ll just come back worse than before.
How Can I Treat Foot Fungus?
So what should you do if you start noticing symptoms that might be caused by a fungal foot infection? Treatment by a professional is the safest bet, and our clinic is a judgement-free zone if you want to come in wearing that track suit. If you book a visit here at Feet First Clinic, our chiropodists have all the tools to properly manage that fungal foot infection – and even help you keep your feet infection-free in the future. (Plus, we promise not to use any oregano oil).