DIY athlete's foot cures could cause burns - and even raise cancer risk trends now
Patients resorting to alternative remedies to treat painful athlete's foot risk suffering rashes, lung problems and even cancer, experts have warned.
In last week's Mail on Sunday, clinicians raised the alarm over the rising number of 'untreatable' athlete's foot infections. The common skin problem, which causes the skin between the toes to become painful and cracked, is caused by a type of fungus that is becoming increasingly resistant to even the strongest over-the-counter creams.
We received a flurry of letters from readers who had been affected, with many saying they'd experimented with other products found on chemists' shelves to tackle the condition.
One MoS reader shared how he swears by potassium permanganate, a mild antiseptic which is dissolved in water. The purple liquid, a form of crystalised salt which can be bought in pharmacies, has been used for more than a century for skin issues such as eczema and leg ulcers, as well as for athlete's foot before the invention of modern antifungals.
The reader says the treatment seems 'to keep foot infections away' though added that the 'only drawback' is that it can stain his feet purple for several days. But experts warn that ingesting potassium permanganate can be fatal and breathing in the fumes can lead to shortness of breath and even lung damage.
Patients resorting to alternative remedies to treat painful athlete's foot risk suffering rashes, lung problems and even cancer, experts have warned
Another remedy mentioned by a number of readers, gentian violet – an antiseptic solution that has mild antifungal properties – has even been linked to cancer. It is banned in many countries but it is still legal to sell it in the UK.
Other DIY treatments mentioned include tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil and even bleach.
Experts are now calling for new NHS guidelines to make sure GPs pick up cases of drug-resistant athlete's foot. They want them to take samples of skin for testing, as this will help them find out the specific medication needed for each infection.
Athlete's foot is caused by a type of fungi called dermatophytes, which also causes ringworm – scaly, red rashes that can appear anywhere on the body. These infections affect millions of people in the UK every year.
Dermatophytes are usually passed on via