You’ve just realized that you managed to get yourself into a very annoying problem courtesy of the gym: athlete’s foot. You meant to pick up a pair of flip flops to avoid walking directly on those well trafficked floors, but you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price.
Unfortunately, that itchy, scaly skin can be hard to get rid of. Fungal infections can be stubborn, and athlete’s foot is one of the worst. Luckily, pine tar soap for athlete’s foot is a time-honored remedy that may help relieve your symptoms and even ward off the fungus in conjunction with other treatments you’re using. At Packer’s Pine, we say that every gym bag should contain a bar (or bottle) of pine tar soap to help keep skin clean, moist, and fungus free.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that is caused by the fungi dermatophytes, which also causes ringworm and jock itch on other parts of the body. Athlete’s foot often starts as a scaly, red or purple (depending on your skin color), itchy rash in between the toes. The skin will likely burn and itch, and blisters may form and resolve on the surface of the rash as the issue progresses. It may also appear on the edge of the foot near the heel and extend up the side of the foot. The itch caused by athlete’s foot is often intense, especially directly after removing your shoes and socks.
A particularly stubborn form of athlete’s foot can affect the toenails. It causes nails to grow thick and turn yellow, possibly along with white spots and streaks. Once one nail is affected, it is easy to spread “athlete’s nail” to other toenails. Nail infections are more common among adults and seniors, as brittle, cracked nails can allow fungus and bacteria to make an easy entry.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these fungal infections may be very stinky.
It is important to head off athlete’s foot as soon as it appears if at all possible. Fungal infections spread and worsen over time, even to the point where it may make wearing shoes or walking painful or impossible.
Pine tar soap for athlete’s foot is known to have anti-fungal properties, so if you wash with it regularly, it may be powerful enough to eliminate the fungus on the skin’s surface before it has a chance to infiltrate a sore or a crack in the skin.
How is Athlete’s Foot Spread?
Spending time around pools or in the communal shower at the gym is likely to expose one to dermatophytes fungi. It is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact and via flakes of skin that can get into socks, clothing, shoes, and other porous surfaces. People with compromised immune systems, poor circulation, and slow-growing nails may be particularly susceptible to athlete’s foot.
Avoid using the same towels as anyone infected with athlete’s foot, wash your clothes separately from infected family members, and don’t wear anyone else’s shoes.
Treatments for Athlete’s Foot
Those suffering from athlete’s foot often are forced to try multiple remedies in order to find something that works. Fungi famously find ways to evade treatment, and it may be necessary to vary or layer treatments to get rid of it. And unfortunately, once you think it’s gone for good, it often finds a way to come back.
Home remedies and over the counter treatments may be effective at fighting athlete’s foot. Using pine tar soap for athlete’s foot in conjunction with any of these treatments can heal the infection far more quickly and effectively than leaving it to improve on its own.
One or more of the following may be effective in helping to clear athlete’s foot:
Hydrogen peroxide—Peroxide is safe to use on open wounds. In fact, it will clean them out, and it is effective at killing the fungus on the surface of the skin. Pouring peroxide on the affected area 2 to 3 times per day may heal the infection over time. This process will sting, but it is potentially very effective.
Tea tree oil—Tea tree oil contains terpinen, which is the active ingredient in the oil that can help kill dermatophytes fungus. Incidentally, this is similar to turpentine, one of the key components of pine tar. Studies have shown the use of tea tree oil to be similarly effective to some over the counter preparations designed to treat athlete’s foot.
Apple cider vinegar—It’s smelly, but it’s awesome. Add one part vinegar to two parts water and soak feet for 10 to 20 minutes per day. You may be tempted to give up when you smell the stuff, but it is a highly effective anti-fungal and is likely to help the infection as well as your foot odor.
Pharmaceutical preparations—Anti-fungals such as Sporanox, Lamisil, and Jublia may work well to clear athlete’s foot.
Vicks VapoRub—It may sound weird, but it does work for some people. That may be due to the anti-fungal properties of several of the ingredients in VapoRub. Cedar leaf oil, camphor, thymol, eucalyptus oil, menthol, and nutmeg oil all may contribute to getting rid of your stubborn athlete’s foot.
Why Does Pine Tar Soap for Athlete’s Foot Work?
Fungal infections devour a protein in skin cells called keratin. They have a continuous source of food as our skin is always in the process of shedding and renewing.
Formal studies have shown pine tar soap to be an effective anti-fungal, anti-itch, antiseptic, and antibacterial preparation. That may seem like a lot for just one substance, but pine tar is an extremely powerful resin. It contains a number of natural substances that may prevent the skin from replicating diseased cells without the use of harsh chemicals. That’s why it’s a go-to source for preventing bacterial infections on the feet of farm animals.
We encourage you to try pine tar soap for athlete’s foot—and for any other itchy, inflamed skin conditions you or your family may experience.
Pine Tar Soap Ingredients
Some of the compounds in pine tar include:
Phenol—Phenol is a powerful natural antifungal and disinfectant agent.
Rosin—Rosin is a natural substance that creates the soapy lather you’re familiar with from mass market soaps. While that lather is likely the result of synthetic additives, our soap keeps it real. Not only does lather feel nice on your skin, it also helps the pine tar to sit on the skin for an extended period, giving it a chance to work to its maximum effect.
Turpentine—Turpentine is another natural substance that contributes to pine tar soap’s purifying effects. While it may not be wise to apply straight turpentine to your skin, within the synergistic whole of its natural state, it’s effective and safe.
Toulene—Perhaps the scent of pine tar soap is secondary to its skin benefits, but we would bet that most of our customers wouldn’t feel the same about our soap without the deep, resiny, woody scent of pine tar. It smells like a camping trip or childhood hike with the family, all in a soap bar!
One thing that is NOT in our soaps is creosote. Creosote is a toxic substance that results from the burning of pine wood, and it is completely removed from our products.
Preventing the Spread of Athlete’s Foot
Again, it is vital to treat athlete’s foot early. Raw skin that cracks and blisters can facilitate a severe bacterial infection called cellulitis. Cellulitis can enter the bloodstream and be life threatening if it’s not treated.
A more common complication is that scratching athlete’s foot can cause the infection to spread to other parts of the body, or to other people.
If you’ve determined that a family member has athlete’s foot, containing the spores and preventing them from spreading to other members of the household is vital.
Make sure to keep the affected person’s laundry separate from everyone else’s. A separate plastic laundry basket that can be disinfected regularly will stop spores from transferring to other surfaces or textiles.
When washing socks, towels, and any other clothes that might have been exposed, use hot water and/or chlorine bleach to ensure that the fungus spores are eliminated. Wash the washer basin frequently with just hot water and bleach in case any spores survive the wash. Drying items on high heat is a good follow up measure.
It’s important to deprive the fungus of the conditions that it favors. Keep shoes dry; putting them on a radiator or near an air vent is ideal. Drying them in the sunlight is also effective. Air out gym bags and other types of bags or carrying cases and wipe them clean with chlorine bleach wipes.
And, of course, invest $5 in those flip flops—and keep them in your gym bag!