Athlete's foot: Doggone it


May 24, 1998|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN King Features Syndicate

Q. I chuckled when I read the recent column about athlete's foot and saliva. The fellow had read that dogs lick their wounds because saliva has healing properties, and he wondered if it would work for athlete's foot.

My uncle had his athlete's foot cured by his small terrier some years back. When my uncle came home in the evenings, he would remove his shoes and socks and put his feet on a hassock while reading the newspaper. The dog always went to him immediately and licked his feet all over, especially between the toes. After about three months, my uncle noticed that the athlete's foot that had plagued him for most of his adult life had gone away!

A. Thanks for the story. Dog saliva is active against several microbes that cause life-threatening infections in newborn puppies. There is preliminary data to suggest that human saliva may have anti-fungal properties.

We doubt that makers of athlete's foot remedies will be very worried, however. Most people couldn't stand to have their toes licked for very long. Our veterinary consultant reminded us that dogs often carry a variety of bacteria in their mouths, which could be a problem if saliva got on broken skin.

Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail to

Pub Date: 5/24/98

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