Athlete’s foot is one of the most common unwanted skin infections, afflicting millions of kids, adults, and seniors every year. Caused by keratin-eating fungi known as dermatophytes, the condition produces scaly, itchy red rashes on the tops and sides of feet and between toes, and can even lead to blisters, open sores, or more serious bacterial infections.
Unfortunately, athlete’s foot can easily spread to other parts of your body (and other people), and can even be dangerous to your health if you have diabetes, low circulation, or compromised immune system. That’s why any cases of the infection should be addressed swiftly.
Where Your Athlete’s Foot Came From
The fungi that cause athlete’s foot prefer dark, humid environment—so you can see why they’re interested in the inside of your shoes! They also like dirty laundry, gyms, locker rooms, showers, pool decks, towels, bath mats, and other hot and wet locations.
The fungi can spread through both direct and indirect contact. For example, it can spread to your hands if you pick at it, or it can spread from one person, then to a towel or bed linen, then to another person. Because the class of fungi that cause athlete’s foot also cause related conditions such as ringworm, jock itch, and fungal toenails, you can get one condition from the other, and vice versa.
Eradicating Athlete’s Foot
Most cases of this infection can be treated at home, using over-the-counter topical antifungal creams, powders, and sprays. Simply follow the instructions on the tube, which usually call for twice-daily applications for a period of about four weeks. Continue to apply the medication for at least one full week after symptoms have cleared up.
If your symptoms do not clear up after following the recommended treatment course, or they keep coming back, make an appointment with Ankle & Foot Specialist of New Jersey. Dr. Thapar will be able to prescribe stronger antifungal medications (topical or oral), along with helping you address any potential contributing factors.
Prevent Athlete’s Foot with Good Hygiene
To reduce the likelihood of contracting an infection, practice good foot hygiene and protect yourself from situations where accidental exposure is more likely. Many people, unfortunately, ignore foot hygiene until they have a problem, so when problems keep returning it’s important to establish healthy habits.
- Wash your feet every day with soap and water, and keep them dry afterward—especially between your toes.
- Change socks at least once per day, or more if you sweat a lot.
- Choose socks made of breathable or moisture-wicking fabrics, and shoes made of breathable materials. This helps keep your feet as ventilated as possible throughout the day.
- Own at least two pairs of “everyday” shoes and alternate them so that each can dry out between uses.
- Use antifungal powder on your feet or inside your shoes if necessary.
- Never go barefoot in public, especially public facilities like gyms and pool decks. Always wear sandals or shower shoes.
- Don’t share shoes, socks, or towels with anyone else, including family members.
- Give your feet a chance to air out whenever possible, such as when you’re at home.
Athlete’s foot can linger for months or even years if you allow it to. The good news is that home care is usually effective, but if you find you’re still struggling, give Ankle & Foot Specialist of New Jersey a call at (908) 222-8980, or fill out an online contact form. For your convenience, we offer our services at both our South Plainfield/Edison and Warren, NJ, offices.