Gardeners feet – Fungal infections and how to cure them

Work boots or just plenty of moving about can leave gardeners prone to some foot ailments – blisters, sweaty wrinkles, hard heels, cracked skin, soreness and strain and also on occasion a fungal infection. The fungal infections we generally encounter are dermatophytes – moulds that feed on our stores of keratin which apart from making our nails strong is also the fibrous protein gives body to our skin. Sometimes it hits the nail other times the foot or between the toes.

Foot fungus – There are various types of fungal infection that can affect the foot – generally classified according to their location or appearance: that might be the ‘moccasin type’ which is patterned over sole and foot or the ‘interdigital type’ which is located between the toes. You can also have conditions labelled as ‘inflammatory’, ‘dry’ or ‘moist’ – all thrive in the same manner and  all are treated similarly.

Try a Garden spa – Many common garden herbs and plants have the ability (the phytochemical armoury) to defend against fungal attack and that ability transfers easily across to human utilization to deplete infection-causing fungi – rosemary, thyme, lavender and sage can be blitzed in a blender or mortar and pestle to make a treatment paste. Essential oil of tea tree is very effective – add to the garden paste, add to moisturiser, add to a foot bath, even apply near neat (that’s a few shakes into a t-spoon of vegetable oil). Wash off after 20mins and dry feet well.

Try a Kitchen spa – Cinnamon is antifungal, a dusting of the powder direct to feet is a fragrant treatment. Ground cloves and oil of cloves contain carvacrol and thymol – both antimicrobial agents – both the essential oil and the power can be mixed with some coconut oil or olive oil or even honey to make a moisturizing paste/lotion to soothe and treat. So while Garlic, lemongrass and turmeric are all antifungal topically applied they can also included in diet to fight infection from within by switching on the immune system to better fight the infection.

Remedy recipe #1 antifungal paste –mix well together, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 t-spoon of zinc ointment and 4 shakes of thyme or tea tree essential oil.

Remedy recipe #2 funky foot paste – blitz 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 t-spoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of honey, all the cloves from whole bulb of garlic (remove tunic and skins)  and a tablespoon of yoghurt. This is so potent you will smell it off your breath, but its potency will just carpet-bomb the hell out of that tinea fungus.

Nail fungus – Fungal nail infections can be quite difficult to treat – as they have a propensity to be persistent (long lived) and also repetitive (in that they can come back with weeks of a successful treatment). That said there are effective OTC and prescription treatments and a few natural solutions too – but you will need patience for all as even the commercial ones can take six to twelve months to rid the nail of the infection.

My approach is to eat immunity boosting foots and probiotic and also to apply antifungal treatments topically. The juice of a crushed garlic clove is effective in killing fungal spores and halting spread if applied 3-4 times daily over a few months but it does make you aromatic. Similarly tea tree oil – two neat drops to the nail 3 times daily – is faster working and delivers a better aromatic self. Regular foot baths or rinses with apple cider vinegar can help destroy the fungus.

Toenail fungus aka Onychomycosis – is rarely related to poor foot hygiene and is more often triggered/maintained by abnormal pH of the skin, sweaty feet or continuous exposure to moisture in which poor footwear, cheap wellies and synthetic socks don’t help. It can also be a symptom of a compromised immune system or weaken circulation. Addressing the underlying trigger is key.

my book the holistic garden – beauty treatments from the garden is packed full of foot treatments and pampering.

About The Holistic Gardener

I am a horticulturalist and holistic practitioner interested in how the garden and engagement with nature facilitates full potential living and therapeutic benefits.
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