Saturday, July 12, 2014

Getting rid of foot fungus

OK, I've long had a problem with foot fungus, and particularly on and under the nails. There are a LOT of products out there, including some that work "internally" (pills), which some doctors will tell you are the only effective way to get rid of such an infection.

However, in my case I got it licked, on my own and it was easy-peasy. If you don't mind some possibly squeam-inducing descriptions, keep reading. I won't be posting pictures because I didn't think to take any pictures, primarily because I had no real expectation that this would work. But it did, faster and better than I'd hoped for. (update: I found some creative commons pictures that are fairly close, though)

First I cut back the nails as far as they would go. I'm not talking about down to the quick... I'm talking about scraping away as much of the damaged and flaking nail as I could, as far back on the toe as I could, using a nail clipper, file, and pocketknife. That turned out to be about halfway up the toe. It didn't hurt... this stuff was beyond help anyway. I just resigned myself that I'd have a pretty gross-looking toe until it healed.

I had no worry about whether it would heal. My little brother's was removed entirely when he got his caught in a door, and it grew back. And again, this isn't painful. When I started to feel it I just stopped scraping. Good thing I don't wear open-toed sandals.

Then I doused my feet in ethyl alcohol once a day until they were healed (about 4 months).

That's it, really.

Not my foot, but pretty close to
what the nail looked like before I
got started. Under the cracked and
discolored surface it was opaque white
and flaking and crumbling.
I doused the whole foot... just wiped it down with a very wet cloth... with special attention to the toes. Ethyl Alcohol (ethanol) is the stuff in Germ-X and in most other germicides. It kills 99.99% of germs according to just about every reference, so there's no reason to think it wouldn't be effective here. It does dry out your feet, so following it up with a moisturizer isn't terrible. I eventually saved myself some trouble by using Germ-X hand sanitizer with Aloe, once a day, before putting on some socks.

It not only got rid of the toe fungus, but also stopped the flaking skin, the over-production of callouses, and any foot odor.

It works so well, I'll probably just keep doing it as a preventative measure.


This isn't the first time I've found that simple measures are better. My first job was in a pet shop. While I was there we experienced an outbreak of mouth fungus among the snakes. One of the hardest parts of treating a snake for anything is getting it to take medication. Snakes are famously talented regurgitators. Sadly, mouth fungus is often fatal to them because it prevents them from eating.

So on a hunch I ran and got a bottle of plain-old garden-variety Listerine mouthwash and some cotton swabs. With finger and thumb on the hinges of the jaw I forced the constrictors' mouths open and swabbed each of them down. They had immediate relief overnight and were completely cured within the week.

As an FYI, Listerine's active ingredients are the essential oils eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate, and thymol dissolved in ethanol.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not publishing a comment I recently received because it's a paid ad.

    The upshot of it is that the commenter's pet oil-du-jour is very effective at treating fungus. Wonderful. It's also hugely expensive, being over $26 for a four-ounce bottle. Ethyl alcohol, on the other hand, costs well under $4 for a sixteen-ounce bottle. In other words, at $6.50 per ounce compared to $0.25 per ounce, the oil is 26 times more expensive than a commonly available treatment that works as well. And this is in response to a blog post describing how I got rid of my own problem inexpensively.

    I'm not a doctor, and you'll note that nowhere do I tell you how you should treat YOUR problems. That means I'll probably veto any comments that DO amount to practicing medicine.

    Nevertheless, I will remind you that alcohol naturally occurs when damned near anything containing sugar ferments. It's every bit as "natural" as anything you can name, though not nearly as trendy. I have no interest in paying for extra for elitism.