7 Helpful Tips To Prevent Athlete's Foot

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Tips To Prevent Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot is a very common fungus infection found mostly on the feet. You can prevent it by keeping your feet clean and dry at all times because the fungus thrives in a moist atmosphere. Pat dry the feet and between the toes after a wash and use foot powder to keep the area dry. Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like shower rooms in pools and gyms. Keep the interiors of the shoes dry and change socks more often.

Summer is here. After a day in the sun wearing those comfortable flip flops, you head out to the pool for a dip. Later, you notice severe itching between the toes. On careful examination, you also spot the skin being very tender and red. The itching gets progressively worse with more areas around the toes getting affected. If this scenario sounds eerily familiar, you could be suffering from athlete’s foot.

A very common fungal infection on the foot, the estimates suggest that at least 15-20 percent people suffer from the infection at any given time.1 Also called Tinea pedis, it’s more prevalent in men (24.2 percent) than women (6.1 percent) and true to its name, runners are more prone to the infection.2 Another group of people often complain of athlete’s foot are swimmers. Studies show swimming pools are a breeding ground for the fungi that spread the infection.3

If anything, athlete’s foot is uncomfortable. But what exactly is it? It’s basically a fungal infection that commonly affects the skin between the toes or the bottom of the feet. The skin, when affected, becomes itchy, red, scaly, cracked or blistered.4 It doesn’t call for any emergency but this fungus spreads fast and could affect other parts of the body and even other people and is extremely uncomfortable to live with.

How Do You Know You Have Athlete’s Foot?

You cannot have athlete’s foot and not know about it because there are telltale symptoms that will keep bothering you till you take action. The affected skin becomes either dry, red, scaly and flaky or white, soggy and cracked. The area will be tender and sore and will itch. In certain cases, the area could be covered in blisters.5

If not treated immediately, the infection could spread around the foot and even to your toenails. If you touch the infected part and then touch anywhere else in the body, the infection can spread there, too. If left unattended to for a long period, it can even result in cellulitis where the skin becomes red and swollen.

How Do You Get Athlete’s Foot?

Having said that, a little care can go a long way in preventing it. But to prevent it, we need to know how it is caused, isn’t it? Here’s how. A variety of fungi can cause the infection which you could pick from anywhere. If you’re sure that none of your family or close friends have it for you to have picked it up through personal contacts, you could’ve contracted the infection at a community pool–in the common shower area or from the floor. Keeping an infected foot in a closed footwear like a shoe and giving it very little chance to dry out completely can also result in the infection. If you’re very sweaty, that too could compound the infection.

That doesn’t mean only dampness cause infection. Athlete’s foot is also noticed in dry, flaky areas of the skin during summer. The hot sun can severely dry out the protective oils on your skin making it more susceptible to infection.6

7 Step Guide To Prevent Athlete’s Foot

Now, let’s look at how to prevent the infection. Here are some ways:

1. Do Not Walk Barefoot In Public Areas

Swimming pools, hotel rooms, gyms, all fall in the category. When you take shower after swimming or training at the gym, wear shower shoes, flip-flops or sandals to the bathroom. Same rules apply in hotel rooms and common areas. There is a good chance of you picking up the infection from the floor.7

2. Keep Your Feet Clean And Dry

Wash your feet every day and keep them dry at all times. Pat your feet dry, especially the area between your toes, after wash, so no moisture is left there to provide a warm, moist area for the fungus to thrive in. Take special care if your toes are too close to each other with little space for the skin to breathe.

3. Keep The Interiors Of The Shoes Dry

If you wear shoes most often, keep extra care in keeping the interiors of the shoes dry. Keep more than one pair of shoes so you can alternate them in case you sweat a lot.

4. Wear Skin-Friendly Socks And Change Them More Often

Keep changing your socks, too. Use socks made of natural materials that can wick away moisture. This gives little chance for fungus to develop.

5. Ensure Pedicure Instruments Are Cleaned

Improperly cleaned instruments used during pedicures can also spread the infection. After the pedicure session, wash your feet properly and dry them out well.

6. Use Foot Powder

Using foot powders after drying can keep the feet dry and moisture free to avoid the fungus from growing.8

7. Do Not Share Things With An Infected Person

If any of your family members have the infection, do not share the towels, bed sheets or clothes until they are treated well and are out of infection.

A little care is all that you need to take to keep athlete’s foot at bay. If you’ve had it once or if you’re more prone to it, take extra care to avoid contracting the infection again.

References   [ + ]

1.Crawford, Fay. “Athlete’s foot.” BMJ clinical evidence 2009 (2009).
2.Auger, P., G. Marquis, Jeannine Joly, and A. Attye. “Epidemiology of tinea pedis in marathon runners: prevalence of occult athlete’s foot.” Mycoses 36, no. 1‐2 (1993): 35-41.
3.Kamihama, T., T. Kimura, J. I. Hosokawa, M. Ueji, T. Takase, and K. Tagami. “Tinea pedis outbreak in swimming pools in Japan.” Public Health 111, no. 4 (1997): 249-253.
4, 5.Athlete’s Foot. NHS.
6.Athletes Foot. SCPOD.
7.Athlete’s Foot: How To Prevent. AAD.
8.Athlete’s foot: Causes, prevention and treatment. Harvard Medical School.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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