How To Deal With Athlete’s Foot
Whether you’re a gym bunny or weekend walker, Athlete’s Foot can affect anyone, regardless of activity level or age. However, there are some factors that can increase your likelihood of encountering the problem, so it’s always best to be vigilant and do your best to prevent the common fungal infection from happening in the first place or help alleviate any further spread to your other toes. Below, we’ve outlined exactly what Athlete’s Foot is, how it’s caused, how you can prevent it, and treatment of the infection, if you’re unfortunate enough to experience it. Don’t forget to seek medical attention if the infection seems to worsen over time.
What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection, which usually affects in between the toes, but can also spread to the sole and side of your foot too. The infection is a form of ringworm and its Latin name is tinea pedis. These fungi are happiest in warm and moist environments, so it’s no wonder they reside in between your toes.
How Is Athlete’s Foot Caused?
Because they enjoy the warmer climes, these fungi tend to live in changing rooms, showers, dirty socks, shoes, and towels. It’s caused by the fungi attaching itself to your feet from these common environments, so you can see what it’s so common to become affected by it and isn’t anything to do with how little or often you shower. It’s most likely caused on your feet because that’s how we come into contact with these types of surfaces, but it can spread to the rest of your body. You can also suffer from Athlete’s Foot if you have open wounds or cracks in your feet.
Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot
So now we know what Athlete’s Foot is, how do you spot it? If you notice changes in your feet, such as an itching or burning sensation, coupled with either scaly or cracked skin, then it’s quite possible you could have Athlete’s Foot. You might also have noticed that your feet have started to smell more than usual (or someone else might have pointed it out!), which can be a key indication that you’re suffering from Athlete’s Foot, even if you haven’t seen any other symptoms.
Prevention Of Athlete’s Foot
Although it is a common ailment, there are plenty actions you can take in order to prevent Athlete’s Foot. Below, we’ve listed some of the best and easiest ways to ensure you minimise your risk.
Dry Feet Thoroughly
Whether you’ve just got out of the shower after a sweaty gym session or have just taken a long, relaxing bath, always ensure you dry your feet thoroughly and with a clean towel. Take special care between your toes, as this is where Athlete’s Foot tends to reside. Even the slightest element of moisture can be a breeding ground.
Use Separate Towel For Feet
It may even be necessary to use a separate towel for your feet, especially if you know you’re susceptible to fungal infections. You can then wash this towel more regularly and ensure you aren’t wiping any other part of your body with it. Athlete’s Foot is highly infectious and can potentially spread to other parts of your body.
If you’re not choosing to use a different towel for your feet, then you must ensure that you’re washing your regular body towels often. This stops them from staying damp and breeding germs or bacteria. Make sure you don’t share towels either, as you can pass on fungal infections extremely easily this way.
Clean Socks Every Day
It might be tempting to think that just because that pair of socks you wore to the gym last night smell clean and have dried thoroughly, does not mean you should then wear them again. Especially during hotter weather and after sports or a workout, you should always wash your socks and wear a fresh pair.
Choose The Right Material
Socks are often an essential part of our day-to-day outfits, ensuring that our feet are comfortable and act as a barricade to blisters and smelly feet. However, if you choose the wrong material for your socks, they can cause more problems than they prevent. Make sure you opt for cotton, silk, or even wool socks, so that your feet can breathe easily and you’re able to wash them thoroughly.
Remove Shoes If Not Out And About
If you’re at home, or even in the office (and it’s safe to do so) remove your shoes at the earliest possible chance. This is a great way for your feet to breathe and relax. It’s especially important that you remove running shoes and gym trainers immediately after your workout, as your feet will have exerted a lot of effort and sweat. Put those sweaty socks straight in the wash too, and make sure you air your trainers out so they can dry fully before your next exercise session. Remember, if you have a pair of shoes that you know to cause your feet to swear excessively or rub, then don’t wear them, as they can be a real problem for causing Athlete’s Foot.
Wear Sandals During Hotter Months
There are some comfortable and fashionable sandals on the market, for both men and women. Sandals are a great way to keep your toes aired and dry during the hotter months, or even just around the house. If you’re not a fan of a sandal, then opt for flip flops instead, as long as you aren’t doing any great levels of walking. Keeping your feet aired and dry is the best way to prevent this infection and will also improve your overall foot health too, such as avoiding blisters and rubbing that can cause corns and bunions.
Take Flip Flops To The Gym Or Swimming Baths
If you shower regularly after working out at the gym or swimming, then make sure you pack a cheap pair of flip flops that you can keep in your bag. These are great for walking to and from the swimming pool, as well as using whilst in the shower, so that your feet don’t have to have any contact with the floor. Make sure you clean and dry these flip flops regularly with anti-bacterial wipes or spray, so that they ready to go for your next workout. Remember, leaving a damp pair of flip flops in your bag can be a breeding ground for other bacteria.
Treatment Of Athlete’s Foot
If you do find yourself with a bout of Athlete’s Foot, then luckily there are some great treatments and remedies on the market that can provide you with the relief you need. The quickest and easiest way to treat the infection is with a topical antifungal treatment, which is usually a cream that you can apply directly to the infected area. The three types of active ingredient treatments are bifonazole, clotrimazole, and hydrocortisone. If you’re unsure which is the best option for your Athlete’s Foot, then make sure you seek either your pharmacist or your health professional’s advice. If you notice that your condition worsens and the treatments aren’t working as they should, seek immediate medical attention.
The treatment should take no longer than 1 to 4 weeks, but this is obviously dependent on a number of factors, such as how bad your infection is and the type of product you’re using. You can still continue to exercise whilst undergoing treatment for Athlete’s Foot, but ensure that you take precautionary methods to stop others from getting the infection, such as flip flops at public swimming baths and not sharing towels. Once you’ve finished your treatment, ensure that you always practice the preventative steps above and keep your feet dry, clean, and happy.
Athlete’s Foot does not go away on its own, so it’s extremely important to spot it quickly, manage the outbreak, and ensure that you follow the above tips for prevention in the future. As the infection is very contagious, ensuring you’ve taken the right steps to stop others from becoming affected, is very responsible.