Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection which affects the upper layer of the foot’s skin. It usually begins between the toes and spreads to the entire foot. It commonly occurs in people whose feet become sweaty in tight-fitting shoes or those walking bare feet in public spaces. Athlete’s foot fungus affects the skin if the environment inside the shoe is warm and moist.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Common symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
- Itching and burning between the toes or soles of the feet
- Peeling skin, commonly on toes and soles
- Itching blisters on the feet
- Thick and discolored toenails
- Dry skin on the soles or sides of the feet
What Causes Athlete’s foot?
The main causes of athlete’s foot are fungi – either molds or yeasts.
These fungi need a warm environment to thrive. It can be caused by contact irritants and allergens. You can get it by sharing shoes or socks of an infected person.
The fungi can be found growing on the floors of public showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms. Athlete’s foot causes also include sweat, rash, and poorly fitting shoes – all of which can aggravate the condition.
8 Tips to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
Here are some athlete’s foot prevention tips that you must know about:
- Keep the Feet Clean and Dry
If you have athlete’s foot, wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water. Make sure you dry them properly, especially between the toes. Since the fungus thrives in moist conditions, dampness can irritate the feet and worsen the condition.
- Wear Breathable Socks
Put on socks that are made of natural and breathable fabrics. Socks that dry quickly or have the capacity to wick the moisture away from the skin will keep the feet dry inside the shoes. Use copper compressions socks as they are not only breathable but they also have anti-bacterial properties. They prevent fungal and bacterial infections that thrive in humid conditions.
Change the socks at least once daily and wear new socks every day. Wear a new pair immediately if the socks get wet.
- Use Talcum or Anti-Fungal Powder
After drying the feet, put anti-fungal powder between the toes before you wear the socks. You can use a hairdryer to make sure the feet are completely dry.
You can also use talcum powder to reduce perspiration in the feet.
- Wash Socks and Towels
Wash the socks, towels, and bedding in hot water. Washing socks regularly and applying antifungal cream is a common athlete’s foot cure.
You can also disinfect shoes using disinfectant wipes or sprays.
- Don’t Share Clothes with Those Who are Infected
If someone you know has athlete’s foot, do not share towels, socks, bed sheets or linens with them.
Keep separate linens and towels for yourself because athlete’s foot is contagious and can spread via contact. Wear shoes or sandals in an area where the infected feet have been.
- Don’t Go Barefoot in Public
If you are in public, especially near pools, gyms or locker rooms, do not go barefoot. These are common breeding grounds for the fungus as they are warm and moist areas. Ideally, you must wear sandals or flip flops. It will keep the feet dry and make sure you do not come in touch with the floor.
Avoid wearing shoes that cover the entire feet as the hot environment within them will encourage the bacteria to grow. This will aggravate the condition. If the shoes are made from synthetic materials like rubber or plastic, it will increase the sweating. This will worsen the athlete’s foot.
- Switch Shoes
If you have to wear shoes every day, it is recommended that you alternate between different pairs. This will give the shoes a chance to dry before you wear them again.
If possible, remove the insoles and allow them to dry overnight. Moisture will allow the fungus to continue to grow if you wear damp shoes, thus worsening the athlete’s foot.
- Take Medication
You can also take over-the-counter medication to get some relief. Look for medicines that contain oxiconazole, clotrimazole, ketoconazole, naftifine, terbinafine, miconazole or terconazole.
If the infection is mild, athlete’s foot can get better by practicing proper foot hygiene. However, if you do not see any improvement in 2 weeks, see a foot care specialist.