Dark, damp environments are a breeding ground for fungi, making certain areas of the body, such as the feet, particularly vulnerable to infection. Typical symptoms include redness, itchy skin, oozing sores and inflammation of the affected area. A number of over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for particularly stubborn cases, however, you can treat mild to moderate infections with a variety of simple home remedies.
Wash the affected area with mild soap and warm water. Scrub lightly with a clean cloth to remove any dirt or debris and then rinse with cool water. Gently dry the skin with a soft towel.
Pour 1/4 cup Epsom salts into a small bowl. Add enough water to make a thick, grainy paste. Spread the paste over the infected skin. Wait 30 minutes and then rinse the paste away with cool water. Pat the skin with a clean cloth to dry. Repeat this treatment three times a day. If you see no improvement after seven days, try a different remedy. For a more stringent antifungal treatment, replace the water with vinegar.
Dip the end of a cotton swab in apple cider vinegar. Rub the moistened material over the affected area and allow it to air-dry. Repeat this treatment four times a day; you should see results after one week. If the acid in the vinegar is causing the skin to be more irritated, dilute the liquid by combining 1 tsp. vinegar and 1 tsp. water.
Mix 2 tbsp. tea tree oil and ½ cup olive oil. Dunk a cotton ball into the oil and then use it to gently swab the infected skin. Apply the oil two times a day for one week. A natural antifungal, tea tree oil will kill fungus on contact. Should the tea tree oil cause itching or irritation, dilute the mixture by adding more olive oil. Store any unused portion in a tightly lidded jar. If you're put off by the strong odor of tea tree oil, substitute five drops of aromatic clove oil instead.
Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.