You don’t have to be an athlete to develop athlete’s foot. Any time you walk barefoot in a place where others have walked before, there’s a chance you can catch this fungal infection. Athlete’s foot thrives in warm, wet places, like locker rooms, pool decks, and communal showers. Here’s how you can avoid this common malady.
What is athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that affects the feet. Its scaly rash typically begins between the toes and can spread over the foot. Symptoms include itching, burning, and stinging.
Athlete’s foot often develops in people with sweaty feet squeezed into tight shoes. This wet, dark place is an excellent area for fungi to grow. Athlete’s foot, related to ringworm and jock itch, is highly contagious. That’s why once one person develops the problem, the fungus can easily infect many others through wet floors, towels, and clothing.
Even after you treat and cure athlete’s foot, it can easily recur.
How to avoid athlete’s foot
An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Take these steps to avoid contracting athlete’s foot and finding it necessary to undergo treatment.
Don’t go barefoot
Because fungi live on floors, when you’re in locker rooms, showers, around the pool, even in ritzy hotel rooms, wear something on your feet—flip-flops, sandals, or pool shoes.
Keep feet dry
Fungi love wet places, like sweat-drenched shoes and damp locker room floors. That’s why it’s so important to keep your feet dry. When it’s hot outside, avoid closed, plastic, or rubber shoes as much as possible. Wear sandals or flip-flops, which let sweaty feet dry. Also, don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. That allows shoes to dry out before donning them again.
Practice good foot hygiene
Wash your feet thoroughly (that means between toes, too) with soap every day. After they’re squeaky clean, dry them completely. You might even train a hair dryer on feet to completely remove moisture. When feet are dry, sprinkle them with powder, which absorbs excess moisture.
If you live with someone with athlete’s foot, or you have it yourself, avoid sharing towels, bathmats, socks, and anything else that could transfer the fungus.
How to treat athlete’s foot
Your local pharmacy carries a host of over-the-counter and prescription antifungal treatments that can get rid of your athlete’s foot.
Your pantry also may contain home remedies that have antifungal and antibacterial properties and can cure athlete's foot. These include:
- Tea tree oil
- Hydrogen peroxide with iodine
- Baking soda
If, despite your home treatments, your athlete’s foot is worsening, contact Dr. Scheffel, who can evaluate your condition. Call the office, 978-368-8835, or use the online booking tool.