Foot Fungus Cured With Socks

Self-experimenter Seth Roberts cured his foot fungus when he bought more socks. Anti-fungal medication didn't work. He wrote about this on his blog, and other people are reporting success with his more-socks cure.
I remember reading on your blog about more socks as a cure for Athlete’s Foot and I had a fungal infection on my foot from climbing around barefoot outside, I think. I tried using two different antifungal creams. They didn’t work. To be honest I didn’t use them for the recommended time cuz it’s a huge fucking hassle. You have to put it on your feet, let it dry, rub it in blah blah blah. And it’s kinda gross to use. So I went to Uniqlo [a Japanese clothing store] and bought like 20 pairs of extra socks and forgot about it. But when I wash socks the washed ones get put in the back of the drawer so the effect is the socks I wear spend like 3-4 days away from my feet every time. Anyway, the infection COMPLETELY disappeared. There is a weird sense of satisfaction from this kind of cure. It feels like just by doing some small things ‘right’ all these health issues can be fixed.
Foot Fungus Cured With Socks


  1. Do not, for the love of God, ever use that horrible Lamisil crap because you have fungus under your toenails. That stuff will damage your liver severely. Instead, do what I did while deployed in Afghanistan: Paint your toenails. It killed the fungus and kept it gone.

  2. Even as important as lots of socks, is lots of shoes.

    If you own 5-6 pairs of shoes, and give them at least 3-4 days airing out before you wear a particular pair again, always with fresh socks, you will never get athlete’s foot.

  3. i’ve always found the sprays/creams/powders designed for foot fungus to be really disappointing. after those failed me for a long time, i turned to my new best friend, zinc oxide.

    zinc oxide is amazing shit. it’ll clear up stubborn acne when other treatments won’t. it’ll clear up foot fungus. you can rub a tiny amount into your armpits once a week and you won’t have such stinky sweat. great for rashes, really, it’s great for any skin condition AFAIK.

  4. If you pee on your feet every day in the shower, you will never get athlete’s foot. It really works, something about the acidity in the pee or something.

  5. The best cure for athlete’s foot or foot odor is apple cider vinegar. ACV kills bacteria dead! Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup daily in your bath or foot soak until problem gone. Make sure to rinse well or you’ll smell like a salad. Wearing two pair of socks helps as well as changing shoe daily.

  6. I had chronic athletes’ foot for a while in the mid-90s.

    It went away for long time after a trip to Isreal, which included a visit to the Dead Sea.

    The cracks under my toes burned like fuck-all while wading in that hot, salty goo, but it cleared things up real good.

  7. I have to wear heavy boots very often and when this problem creeps up on me I buy new socks, wash my feet with soap, and then soak my feet in black tea for half an hour.

    The tea is probably unneccesary but it’s cheap and feels nice.

  8. For some reason, I recall the trivia that actor George Hamilton (the most tanned Dracula in “Love at First Bite”) always wears new socks each day.

  9. I can’t say I agree with all of the things mentioned in the article. For example, I very much fidget and lean back even when extremely interested. And I know a guy who constantly answers with “Really?” but who’ll be able to recount everything you’ve said a week later…

  10. Thanks for posting this, i was going to look for a stronger medication, it never occurred to me that the problem could be the socks, i tend to use the same comfy sock as soon as they are clean. Now i know i have to have at least 3 sets of comfy sock to rotate them.

  11. I bought black drawing salve (Ichthammol) at a feed store for some boils I had. Supposedly this stuff has incredible antibiotic properties so I tried it on suggestion of my doctor (!).

    First of all, it is the consistency of bearing grease. Second of all, it smells HORRIBLE, since it’s petroleum based.

    I ended up with yet another case of athlete’s foot and the skin between my toes started to crack. Cleaned them really well and applied this stuff for two days and it went away on its own.

    I was shocked, usually I have to buy a $8 tube of something and smear it on for a week but this was gone in a couple days!

  12. A couple of other athlete’s foot tips: wash your socks with bleach, get rid of old shoes, and keep the floor of your shower & bathroom disinfected, again with a bleach solution.

    Washing your feet, and drying them thoroughly, before applying any medicine is key. Tea tree oil works wonders for keeping the fungus at bay, once it is under control.

  13. @mwshmeer: Agreed.

    I have never had a problem with foot fungus in my entire life. Here’s why:

    1) Wear clean socks every day.
    2) Take your socks and shoes off the moment you get home and let your feet breathe!
    3) Do not wear the same pair of shoes every day. Have a few pairs of work and casual shoes to alternate between so that each pair can completely air out and dry between uses.
    4) Wash your socks seperate from the rest of your laundry. (Underwear too.)
    5) Wash socks in hot water and bleach. (Underwear too to avoid jock itch.) I prefer Ecover’s non-chlorine hydrogen peroxide bleach because it’s safer for the environment and doesn’t produce toxic dioxins as a bi-product as cheaper chlorine bleaches do.
    6) Always use an extra rinse cycle. Preferrably on all laundry. (Do an extra wash cycle with no soap if you have to use public washers which often don’t provide the extra rinse option. Sorry, it does cost more and uses more water, but at least your athletes’ foot and jock itch will go away and stay away.)
    7) Use fragrance free detergents.

    My brother had fungus problems. His doctor told him to do what his sister does (ie: as outlined above)… and it finally went away after years of suffering.


    PS: I read recently that soaking your feet in the essential oil of thyme (thymus oil) can help treat toe-nail fungus and other fungal infections. Sorry I don’t have the link for the article, but the study showed that thymus oil seems to combat a variety of fungi, including candida. Thymus oil stinks, but you can also add lavendar and tea tree oils for a more pleasant aroma and for their cleansing properties.

  14. Who the hell doesn’t change their socks every day?
    This is news?

    Here another tip for you metrosexuals: change your underwear every day also and you won’t get jock itch.

  15. Oh, I forgot to add:

    8) Make sure you keep your bathtub and foot towel clean and washed weekly in hot water and non-chlorine bleach.

  16. I only own one pair of shoes (a pair of cross trainers with foot beds for supporting my rather deformed feet), but I must own 30 pairs of socks.

    I like new, clean, cotton socks. A lot. I don’t wear a totally new pair every day, but I would rather toss them in the rag bag once they start getting a little nubbly and thin and shell out another 8$ for another bag of socks than save the money and keep them in the cycle until I wear holes in them.

    Once in the rag bag they are suitable for anything from cleaning clothes to stuffing a cushion for a cat (my cat likes the smell of feet) to making a Klein bottle coin purse.

    I’ve got terribly sweaty feet and wear the same shoes basically whenever I’m not in bed or in the bath, but I’ve never had foot fungus.

    Obviously rotating my socks is helping!

  17. Not being exposed to the fungus organism will also prevent acquiring it. Don’t assume it’s your excellent hygiene.

    I’ve never caught AIDS or Ebola, but that doesn’t mean I am immune to either one. Just that I’ve been lucky.

  18. Who doesn’t have at least a weeks worth of socks?
    That alone blows my mind. I’ve got like 10 pairs and end up having to do whites just cause I run out…

    The only time I’ve had foot fungal issues was in college, and in the dorms. After that we all learned to shower with sandals on….

    1. I don’t know how many pairs I have. Dozens, I think.

      I have cotton socks (for warmer weather), formal trouser socks, angora socks, and thick knee-high socks for winter boot wear. I also have stockings (which have feet) and very short socklings for wearing flats.

      I also own five pairs of shoes, two pairs of flip-flops, a pair of sandals, a pair of sneakers, and four pairs of boots. Or something like that.

      Never had trouble with any foot infection.

      I’m going to tell my boyfriend tonight that I own all this stuff for hygienic reasons. Thanks, BB!

  19. bcsizemo: “Who doesn’t have at least a weeks worth of socks?”

    I don’t. I mean, I would love to.. I really really want to.. but I’m also very poor. (currently paying my way out of heavy debt – should be over in about 3 months). My problem is I can’t buy cheap socks. I’m on my feet a lot, and I wear the bottoms out of cheap socks like they are tissue paper. The only socks I’ve found that can hold up are Darn Tough socks – but at $15 to $20 a pair, I can only rarely afford them.

    Course.. I also don’t have foot fungus… but thats because I make every effort to be shoeless as often as possible.

  20. John Kennedy never wore the same pair of shoes twice, and he had great feet.

    Seriously, even the over the counter anti-fungal stuff works fine, but you do need to read and follow the directions. Apply the stuff twice a day, just like it says. Wash your feet with soap and water twice a day before you reapply the stuff until the infection clears up – and for a while after it appears to be gone. Change your socks for clean ones every day. Cycle your shoes so you don’t wear the same pair every day – they need to dry out inside after each wearing.

    Yeah, you can go with your own home remedies just like you can make your own birth control. Doesn’t bother me in the least.

  21. While we’re on sock tips…
    If you have a mixed bag of socks, chuck ’em all out and go out and buy 20 pairs the same – saves the hassle of matching every bloody morning as you get ready for work.

  22. I also use socks medicinally. When cold, especially skiing, usage retards frostbite. When there are shards of glass on the floor, usage, especially when combined with “shoes” may prevent lacerations. They also make great hand puppets.

  23. I’ve had bouts of tinea versicolor, a skin fungus, similar to foot rot.

    First time, I took the oral fungicide prescribed by a physician. (Have you ever noticed that when a physician encounters an unfamiliar condition, he gets kind of excited? This guy did: “I’ll bet if we scraped off a skin sample, we’d see fruiting bodies under the microscope!” Yeah, “fruiting bodies”, that’s just what I want to hear. Thanks, dude.) The fungicide knocked that fungus right out, but oral fungicides are kind of hard on the system, so I prefer to avoid that approach.

    Second time, a nurse advised that I could get a prescription topical ointment; but she also advised that I could use Selsun Blue, which is cheaper.

    Selsun Blue comes in two version: traditional (containing some selenium compound), and a “Naturals” version (containing salicylic acid). Not fancying selenium, I tried the salicylic acid version — it works pretty well, not a one-time knockout punch, but two or three applications on successive days did the trick. It’s not cheap-cheap, but it’s cheaper than the prescription salicylic topical.

    Which gets me to thinking: aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, might serve as a topical, ground up into a poultice/paste. Haven’t tried it, but it is cheap-cheap, so I probably will.

    Other commenters above have mentioned other acids (urine, vinegar) as topicals. Seems like the crud is pretty fussy about pH balance.

  24. An alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer, like those so popular recently for H1N1, quickly cleared up my case of athlete’s foot that had resisted everything else for a year. Rubbed it in morning and night.

  25. How does wearing two pairs of socks work for people who have fungus? I’ve seen people do this. Wouldn’t this actually trap moisture in, thus fueling the fungus you’re already suffering from?

  26. If we are discussing anecdotal evidence for effective treatments, then I must point out that I never got athlete’s foot until I started wearing shoes regularly.

  27. I suffered for three years with an irregular but persistent case of this. Got it from one of those karate on the installment plan places, as soon as they got you to sign for two years, they beat the crap out of you each time you returned, so you stopped going but still had to make payments….It was finally cured by Fungi Cure (The oily liquid not the cream).I have to agree too, change of shoes and frsh socks every day…….

  28. I probably have at least two dozen pairs of socks and around 30 pairs of shoes (although I have a favourite five or so pairs I wear most of the time). I do get the occasional case of tinea. Lamisil clears it up it around 2 to 3 days (and I generally apply it once a day).

  29. Agreed on Lamisil/terbinafine – it’s nasty stuff. I used the cream, not the tablets, too! I don’t think there’s a very high chance of liver damage with the cream (see for an actual medical opinion – mine isn’t!) I had an adverse reaction to it after using it on jock itch – it made the skin on my chest go scaly, and made my thigh look like it had been “submerged in bleach” (those are my doctors words – not mine).

    I used to have a real problem with athlete’s foot/scrot rot (that’s jock itch in the US) and other skin infections on my feet – until I started putting 15% tea tree oil lotion on them every few days – it is a great natural treatment. I’ve since stopped putting tea tree oil on, and had one reoccurence in over 5 years, which the tea tree oil sorted out in a couple of days. Tea tree oil is great for any fungal infection.

    Oh yeah, don’t use tea tree oil near your eyes (or anywhere intimate :D).

    1. Sorry – my comment is completely out of context, I missed a bit! It should say “Terbinafine is nasty stuff if you have a reaction to it”.

      Tea tree oil is similarly not too good for you if you misuse it and WILL give you a liver failure if you drink it.

      1. Several anti-fungals are notoriously allergenic. Ketoconazole (Nizoral) is one of the worst. The problem with allergenic anti-fungals is that the allergy symptoms are often barely distinguishable from original symptoms, particularly since people treat undiagnosed conditions with over-the-counter drugs. One of the worst offenders are several anti-dandruff shampoos, which are as likely as not to reproduce the dandruff symptoms.

        If you have a skin problem that’s more than transient, it’s worth it to go to the dermatologist and get it properly diagnosed. I lost half the skin on my face and ended up with impetigo and a carbuncle, an actual carbuncle, because a GP misdiagnosed me (and over-treated) as having seborrheic dermatitis when I just had an allergy to my lip balm.

  30. Post hoc ergo propter hoc anyone? Be skeptical of cures offered by someone who is too hassled to use foot creams and apparently only has three pairs of socks.

  31. I don’t know if the similar trend exist in US as in Sweden, but here in Sweden a lot of young people wash their sock in 30 or 40 degrees Celsius, wich DON’T KILL, or even effect, THE ACTIVE FUNGI. Even worse a lot of socks are marked that they should be washed in these low temperatures. Most Scandinavians over 30 would never dream to wash anything in temperatures below 60 degrees Celsius, because even if you get lucky and won’t get rashes or anything if you don’t, you will still smell like stinky cheese (or like an American/French/Italian, which, based on their smell, I guess wash their clothes in low temperatures and don’t change their clothes that often ;).

    If you wash your socks in 60 degrees Celsius (actually a few degrees lower, but 60 is a standard temperature on European washing machines), you kill almost all of the active fungi and a lot of spores.

    If you wash in 90 degrees Celsius (actually a few degrees lower, but yet again European washing machines have a safety margin built in) you kill most microorganism that can cause you trouble. Next step is 95 degrees and the step after that is higher then 100 degrees Celsius under pressure and kind of unpractical.

    Temperature is a lot more effective against fungi and other microbes then any chemical.

  32. i had fungus that would rot through my cheap sneakers in a month…would come home, leave my shoes outside(so smelly!), and wash my feet immediately, wore fresh socks every day, used powders and creams, nothing helped. one day my aunt, who i was staying with for a while, suggested i use absorbine jr. on my feet; apply after washing my feet, and just leave it there. 3 days of applying every evening, and the problem disappeared. forever. well, for at least 30 years. who knows, it may come back some day.

  33. If you make beer and/or wine there will be lots of candida (yeast) around your house no matter how ‘hygienic’ you think you are. It’s also a totally normal part of a woman’s natural ‘flora’. FYI hygiene people!
    Solutions for when it gets a bit out of control- live culture plain yogurt – eat it and apply it to the area (recommended by doctors too). If your problem is jock itch/yeast infection/ athletes foot microwave or boil your sox and or underwear. It will kill the yeast. It can live for a very long time even in washed cotton. I’m sure bleach works too – but it will wreck stuff that isn’t white.
    Sometimes people also get yeast infections in the mouth – especially babies – it’s call thrush and nursing moms can get it on there nipples. In grown ups you can use yogurt or lozenges – I’m not sure what the best thing for little babies is.
    It’s really not about how clean you are but rather about balance.

  34. Don’t forget the sun – UVs will really fix bad smells coming from shoes. I assume that it kills the fungus. If we were to hang clothes on lines again it would probably kill fungus in socks as well.

  35. I read this entire thread in fascination, zoned out. It’s like Glamour or Cosmo but for guys: Did you know that you can totally not get infections by changing your socks? Like OMG who knew, right?

    Congrats on finding a nontoxic cure (I do mean that sincerely). It doesn’t matter if the socks match.

  36. Hmmm. Here’s where my dread of laundry must be helping me. I probably have over 100 pairs of socks. I have enough socks to wear socks to work, another pair at the gym, and then back into the work socks (I’d never wear the gym socks all day, that’s just sweaty sweaty gross). I throw each pair of socks into the laundry hamper and forget about it until I notice I don’t have many socks/underwear/tank-tops/bras… then I spend a weekend doing laundry.

    I think I’ve gone a month or more at a time. I hate laundry. I have enough clothes to support this lifestyle. I never thought it might be saving my feet from all the gym showers. I also take my shoes off upon entering my house. Always. Inside house = barefoot or in a pair of new fresh socks/slippers if it’s really cold.

    I had athletes foot once or twice but it just went away. I didn’t know that it didn’t just go away on it’s own actually. I’ve gotten some kind of fungus/bacteria in shoes you wear without socks before that makes them smell terrible. I’ve never thought there was anything to be done about it so I’ve always just trashed the offending shoe.

  37. When I was last travelling I got a severe case of foot fungus from a shower in the hotel I was staying at in NYC. I’d had minor athletes food problems in the past (just skin peeling in between the toes and itching, etc) but this was far far worse. Horrible painful lumps all over the sole of my feet that looked like masses of warts grouping together.

    Once it started it was very hard to get rid of, especially because I was wanting to be a tourist and running about all day outside seeing sights, etc and it was about 35 degrees (c) every day so my feet were sweaty as hell.

    Things I found helping was changing my socks twice or 3 times a day. The key is keeping your feet as dry as possible. Buying another pair of shoes so I could at least alternate them day to day. This didn’t make the stuff go away but it did slow down the rate of it getting worse. Once I got to Croatia I exclusively wore thongs (flip-flops, jandals) and made sure to go to the beach every day and soak my feet in salt water and wash my thongs at the same time!

    It went away about a week or two later. I don’t think the cream I was using the whole time had much impact at all.

  38. There also used to be an excellent antifungal cream for sale in the U.S. called Whitfield’s ointment. It was about $2 a tube: Salycylic acid, and benzoic acid. Stings a bit but absolutely wipes out athlete’s foot and jock itch. It was cheap, generic, over the counter, and it worked.

    Weirdly it is no longer for sale in the U.S.A. I almost think it is some secret conspiracy on the part of the folks who sell pricey antifungals.

  39. It was at comment 3 that I realized that the occasional itchiness I get on the bottom of my feet must be because of a fungus! I wear the same shoes day after day, and sometime the same socks. Wow, I cannot believe I didn’t figure this out. Crazy. Of course, I doubt it’ll change my habits, it’s so mild a problem, but now I’ll know! (& know what to do if it ever gets worse…) Thanks boingboing

  40. Well my mom tells me that if you wear socks to much you WILL get fungus. Is that true because i LOVE to wear socks for some reason but i do not want fungus. So can anyone help me out? :D Thanks

  41. I’m a construction worker and had a particularly vigorous strain (I think Tinea Metagrophetes). It looked like red blotches on my feet. I tried many cremes/homemade remedies before going to the doctor. He prescribed me a creme of betamethasone with 1% clotrimazole. The clotrimazole is the anti fungus and betamethasone is a steroid to help counteract your allergic reaction (swelling, itching). I found that K-Mart has the prescription for $5. After I used all 3 refills in a few months I instead bought over the counter 1% clotrimazole creme (about $6 from walmart generic stuff).
    I found the best thing to do was to use foot powder!! I got some expensive anti-fungal stuff to put inside my sock and some cheap stuff to put loads of in my boot. After an 8 hour shift my feet are dry. Also, changing socks at break or lunch and repowdering is a great idea. I also take my boots off as soon as possible and put on a fresh pair of socks/shoes before leaving work site. If I sat in my car I’d let my feet breathe during break. I’d also do a foot soak every day or twice or more if it was bad with warm water and Borax. Borax is supposed to prevent fungus from propagating. Basically it seems like you want to keep your feet dry as possible. Oh and don’t try anything other than foot powder in your shoes. I did baby powder and it just got all gummy. Hope this helps.

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