If you've ever gotten a Chinese-style foot massage, you probably soaked your feet in a warm herbal tea for awhile before the foot massage started. It's very relaxing and improves circulation. It also ensures that the massage technician doesn't have to massage dirty, smelly feet.
Here's a foot soak you can make at home specifically for athlete's foot (tinea pedis). Athlete's foot comes in three different varieties, according to TCM - blistering, erosive, and keratinized, all of which have the tell-tale itching and smell.
Blistering obviously means there are blisters. The erosive type is whitish with exudate, generally between the toes, and turns red after scratching. Keratinized is generally dry and characterized by peeling skin. These types may be present all at the same time or occur one after another. This particular recipe is for the the erosive type and consists of two parts: a soak followed by a dry powder dusted onto the affected areas.
- Yi Yi Ren - pearl barley 30g
- Gan Cao - licorice root 30g
Soak the two herbs in water for one hour, bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for another 15 minutes. When the herbal tea has cooled but is still warm, soak your foot or apply the liquid with a wet compress for about 20 minutes. Let the foot dry and dust it with a powder made of the following:
- Liu Yi San* - Six to One powder 15g
- Ku Fan - alum 10g
- Huang Bai - phellodendron bark 10g
- Bing Pian - synthetic borneol 1g
- Bai Zhi - dahurian angelica 10g
*Note: Liu Yi San is a powder consisting of six parts Shi Gao (talcum) and one part Gan Cao (licorice).
Repeat 2-3 times a day until symptoms subside. In the meantime, do not drink alcohol, and stay away from shellfish and greasy, fatty foods. This will help prevent the internal accumulation of dampness and help the athlete's foot subside quickly. And remember to change your socks frequently.
p.s. If you can't get your hands on Chinese herbs, try wiping your feet down with vinegar. Vinegar can also help kill the fungus.