Fungal Conditions


Fungal conditions can be very persistent and hard to treat.  Many of these conditions start on the hands, or on the feet (such as athlete's foot) or on a remote area of the skin. 


These types of infections are caused by a variety of fungi which spread and reproduce on the skin, the body, and/or the nails.  The most common are mold and yeast infections, which have a tendency to flourish in damp, warm, sweaty places and attack the outer layer of a person's skin.

It is possible to catch a fungal infection from an infected animal or person, or from contaminated changing rooms and showers. 


Some of the symptoms of fungal infections include:

  • Redness, swelling, scaling and cracking of the skin

  • Intense itchiness

  • Multiple patches of infection


As people get older, the risk of nail infection increases.  Thus, special care should be taken after exercise to clean and dry the feet.  A drying powder which contains a mild antifungal can also be helpful.  Avoid footwear that is tight as it causes the toes to be crowded and promotes fungal growth. 

Fungal organisms grow and spread quickly in communal showers and pools, so those people who have a fungal infection should take care to use separate towels.

Treatments for Fungal Conditions

There are several treatments available for fungal conditions.  They include the following.

Topical Treatments

It can take months for treatment to show any benefit, and complete resolution of a fungal problem can take up to a year.  The medication is almost always prescribed, as spontaneous remission of fungal conditions is very rare. 

In cases where the fungus is caught when it appears at the very end of a toenail, treatment with a topical chlotrimazole cream (which is available over the counter) can be used for 30 days and is often very effective.

Oral Treatments

When a fungal skin infection is persistent or involves the nails or the soles of the feet, a physician may wish to prescribe a systemic antifungal medication, typically for two to three months.  Griseofulvin, terbinafine and itraconzaole are all antifungal drugs.  Pregnant women should not take oral antifungals.


AIDS patients, diabetic patients, and those with circulatory problems should immediately seek care and should continue treatment until the infection is completely resolved.  Be sure to check with a physician if an antifungal medication has been prescribed while taking other medications or herbs which may interact with blood concentrations (such as St. John's wort).

Natural Remedies

A diet consisting of fresh vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains will help support the immune system.  Plenty of unsweetened cultured foods should also be consumed, such as yogurt, kefir, miso and raw sauerkraut, which contain friendly bacteria that fight off systemic fungus. 

Drink 10 glasses of water a day to flush out yeast toxins.  Two glasses per day of a green drink should be consumed, made from a green powder containing spirulina, wheat grass and barley grass powder. 

Avoid sugar and processed carbohydrates as they help feed yeast infections.  Avoid or reduce fruits and completely avoid fruit juice.  Do not consume any alcoholic beverages, as the yeast in alcoholic drinks helps fuel the yeast in the system.

Complete a seven-day vegetable juice detoxification fast, supervised by a qualified health care practitioner.  Have two juices a day and soup, such as miso and vegetable soup, with plenty of garlic and ginger.  After the seven-day detox, stay on the diet outlined above.

Nearly all of the herbal therapies for fungal infections of the nails or skin are applied topically to the infected area.  Doing so increases the effectiveness of the therapy and cuts down on unwanted side effects.  Seek medical attention if the symptoms do not become better, if they worsen, or if new symptoms develop.  A more aggressive therapy may be needed.

Some herbs to try topically are:

  • Garlic - This herb has antiseptic and antifungal properties and generally boosts the immune system.  Apply crushed raw garlic directly to the affected area two to three times a day for one to two weeks.

  • Tea tree oil - This product can be used topically as an antifungal and antibacterial agent.  It has been shown to relieve symptoms, but a complete cure from tea tree oil alone is unlikely.

  • Calendula - This herb is available from herbal stores and has been shown to be effective in treating fungal infections.  It can be applied topically as an ointment.  While calendula has very few contraindications if used topically, it will sometimes cause an allergic reaction.

  • Oregano oil - This is best taken orally and diluted in water.  Drink 3 to 5 drops of oil in a glass of water two to three times a day. 

  • Cloves - Cloves have antifungal properties when applied topically.  Clove oil or salves can be put on the affected area several times per day.  Cloves should not be taken internally and may cause dermatitis or nasal and vaginal irritation in some people.

  • Alfalfa - This product is known for its antifungal properties and is best taken as an oil or in a tea.  To make alfalfa tea, boil 1 to 2 tbsp of alfalfa in a cup of water.  Strain and drink when cooled.  Do not take large doses as alfalfa may interact with antithrombotic and hormone drugs.  It has also been known to cause sensitivity to light.


  1. Balch, J.F. & Stengler, M. (2004). Prescription for Natural Cures: a self-care guide for treating diseases and health problems with natural remedies including diet and nutrition, herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, bodywork, and more. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  2. De Vries, J. (1992). Skin diseases. Edinburgh : Mainstream
  3. Goodman, T. (1984).The skin doctor's skin doctoring book.New York : Sterling
  4. Papadopoulos, L. (2003). Understanding skin problems : acne, eczema, psoriasis and related conditions. Chichester, West Sussex : John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  5. Turkington, C., (1998). Skin deep : an A-Z of skin disorders, treatments and health. New York : Facts On File

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