medwireNews: Bathing feet in a green tea extract may help relieve skin symptoms in elderly patients with athlete's foot, say Japanese researchers.
Twelve weeks of daily warm foot baths containing 0.1% green tea polyphenols (GTP) resulted in a significant improvement in the overall skin symptoms of 39 patients with interdigital tinea pedis, such as erythema, desquamation, and maceration, compared with 39 patients treated with water-only foot baths.
GTP bathing was associated with a significant reduction in the size of the affected area but this did not significantly differ from that achieved by placebo. Although there was a trend towards a reduced risk for recurrence in the GTP-treated versus placebo-treated patients, this did not reach significance (16.7 vs 50.0%).
Nor was there a significant difference in the microscopy results of skin samples for the two treatments at 12 weeks, with 62% positive and 38% negative for infection in both groups, despite half the patients also receiving conventional antifungal ointment.
"Therefore, the GTP treatment does not treat the infection causing tinea pedis," explain Sugako Ikeda (Kobe City College of Nursing, Japan) and co-authors.
However, noting that none of the patients experienced adverse effects from the GTP bathing, the researchers say they would like to repeat the study using a higher GTP dose in a larger patient group.
The research, published in The Foot, follows in vitro results demonstrating that the GTP epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) can destroy the Trichophyton fungus causing the dermatophyte infection, as well as reported improvements in diaper rash after green tea bathing. Application of green tea leaves has traditionally been used to treat athlete's foot in Japan.
The patients in the current study were aged an average of 84.7 years, 71.3% were female, and all were resident in a hospital or geriatric care facility. Their feet were washed and then bathed with water or water infused with commercially available green tea extract GTP including ECGg and other catechins for 15 minutes every day.