Athlete's foot, also known as ringworm of the foot and tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itch of affected areas. It is caused by fungi in the genus Trichophyton and is typically transmitted in moist areas where people walk barefoot, such as showers or bathhouses. Although the condition typically affects the feet, it can spread to other areas of the body, including the groin.

Unfortunately, you don't need to be an athletic to suffer from this fungal infection, although the warm, damp conditions inside training shoes certainly favour its development, and changing rooms are a likely place to pick up the microscopic mould that is responsible. Several different types of mould or fungus which infect the outer layer of the skin, can be the source, and even in orthodox medicine, treatment is often a matter of trial and error.

You can treat athlete's foot with a combination of Lavender and Myrrh oils, and alternate with Tea tree. All these oils are fungicidal, and have other properties that help to soothe and heal the moist, itching and often cracked skin. If the skin is deeply cracked and painful, oil of Calendula is valuable, too. It is best to use the oils dissolved in alcohol for a few days until the moistness of the skin has dried out, and then continue treatment with an ointment or cream containing between 3% and 5% essential oils until the skin is completely clear.

It is important to clean repeatedly round toenails and fingernails, as the minute fungus often lodges under the nails and causes repeated infections. Infection of this kind is not restricted to the feet, and may occur in the groin (common in hot climates, and nicknamed 'dhobie itch' by British troops in colonial times), between the fingers, and on the scalp - where it takes the form of ringworm

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