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A safe, effective antifungal foot soak using either boric acid or borax to eliminate infections such as Athlete’s foot instead of over-the-counter creams with toxic ingredients and possible side effects.
When feet are itchy, scaling, or peeling, a fungal infection of the skin is commonly the cause. Cracked heels can be a sign of fungal overgrowth of the skin too.
Scientifically speaking, the fungi that cause Athlete’s foot or tinea pedis are dermatophytes. These critters invade and grow in dead keratin, which is the outermost layer of skin. Keratin is also found in hair and nails.
For dermatophytes to cause an overgrowth in the keratin, warmth, and moisture are usually needed too. This is why the feet are a usual target for problems with Athlete’s foot.
Why Avoid Over-the-Counter Antifungal Creams
One of the most common antifungal creams for feet is Lotrimin, available over-the-counter at most pharmacies.
The ingredients of this cream include:
Benzyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl Esters Wax, Octyldodecanol, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Water
The directions say that this cream should be used daily for 4 weeks to eliminate the fungus causing the infection. This would likely require several tubes of the product over a 1-month period at a cost of roughly $50 total.
While the ingredients in this cream are not a serious hazard, they are not benign either. Some of the ingredients might be absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin. (1-3)
In this case, side effects could include: (4)
- dry mouth
- sore tongue
- tooth pain
- red or swollen gums
- altered sense of taste
Such a long list for an external use-only cream that is supposedly safe and sold over-the-counter!
Why risk these side effects and pay $50 over a period of 4 weeks when it is much less expensive, faster, and safer to make a foot soak yourself with natural substances that contain boron, one of the most potent natural antifungals?
This type of home remedy was recommended decades ago by physicians who used to make house calls!
My Dad was this type of doctor, and his go-to remedy for all things fungal-related for the feet was boric acid.
Boric acid is a concentrated form of boron. It is marketed as roach or insect powder at the hardware store, but don’t let this put you off!
It is also highly antifungal and can be used by humans externally too!
Not only is a boric acid just as effective as Lotrimin, but it is also much less expensive with no side effects. It even works faster!
Making an old-fashioned foot soak with boric acid as recommended by MDs years ago is quite simple.
Once you have a lightweight foot basin at the ready (such as this one), follow these simple instructions. Do not use it if there are any open cuts, sores, or wounds on the feet.
- Wash feet in the shower or bath with mild soap and water, rinse, and pat dry.
- Add three quarts of warm filtered water to a small foot basin.
- Mix in 1.5 tablespoons of boric acid until completely dissolved.
- Soak feet for 15-20 minutes.
- Wash feet in mild soap and water again, rinse feet, and pat dry with a clean towel.
- Leave feet exposed to the open air for at least an hour before putting on socks or shoes.
- Repeat once a day for a week or until symptoms resolve.
Borax is a less concentrated form of boron than boric acid. This substance can be useful for eliminating fungal-related foot infections as well.
If you wish to use borax instead of boric acid, make a foot soak using the instructions below instead. Again, do not use this method if there are open sores, cuts, or wounds on the feet. (5)
- Pour a quart bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide into a small foot basin. The H2O2 helps the borax penetrate foot and nail crevices better. You may omit it if you prefer.
- Add two quarts of hot (not boiling) filtered water to the bucket. Add three quarts if omitting the H2O2.
- Mix 1 cup plain borax into the foot basin until completely dissolved.
- Place feet into the basin. The solution should completely cover the feet.
- Soak for 15-20 minutes, then remove feet from the basin, and pat dry with a towel. Do not rinse.
- Repeat once a day for a week or as long as necessary until the Athlete’s food is gone.
No Soaking Method
Another method that is much easier but potentially less effective is to wet feet and rub a handful of borax all over them taking care to apply to the area between the toes. Leave on for a few minutes, rinse and pat dry. (6)
Repeat until symptoms are gone.
Additional Healing Benefits
A side benefit of either boric acid or borax foot baths to eliminate Athlete’s foot is that this home treatment will also reduce or even eliminate foot odor problems.
Issues with cracked heels can also greatly improve, saving money on pedicures that have their own set of risks for fungal infections.
Note that issues with fungal infections of the feet or anywhere else on the body can sometimes indicate a boron nutritional deficiency.
Since the boron in boric acid and borax can be absorbed somewhat through the skin, the healing foot soaks described above can potentially help alleviate systemic deficiency. (7)
An ionic boron supplement can also be useful to help resolve this condition if chronic fungal infections are experienced.
(1) Octyl Dodecanol
(2) Polysorbate 60
(3) Sorbitan Monostearate
(4) Lotrimin Uses, Side Effects, Warnings
(5) Getting Back to Normal
(6) The Borax Conspiracy
(7) The Benefits of Boron
Athlete’s Foot Natural Remedy | Healthy Home Economist is written by Sarah Pope for www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com