Athlete’s foot is more than an unsightly condition — it can be painful, too. Unfortunately, many people develop this condition. They suffer from scaly, peeling, and cracked skin between their toes and on the soles of their feet. If left untreated, this fungus can spread to other areas of the body. If you experience any of these symptoms or simply want to avoid an infection, keep reading. Here are the five best ways to prevent athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedi, is a common infection caused by the fungus trichophyton. Most people pick it up from floors or even clothing, especially socks. However, trichophyton can only affect your skin if conditions are just right. Athlete’s foot requires a warm and moist environment, such as the inside of your shoe, to take root. When you keep your feet dry, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing this troublesome condition.
One of the best ways to ensure your feet stay dry, even during wet-weather seasons, is to use cornstarch or foot powder. These typically inexpensive products are available at most supermarkets and drug stores and can help keep your skin from becoming moist enough for the fungus to grow.
If your podiatrist diagnosed you with hyperhidrosis or excessively sweaty feet, over-the-counter roll-on antiperspirants might provide some additional relief. Various over-the-counter antifungal treatments also help keep your soles from becoming a damp breeding ground for athlete’s foot.
Some patients have reported temporary success with Botox injections. This procedure may help your feet stay dry for up to nine months. In severe cases, our office can even prescribe oral medications, often anticholinergics, or recommend sympathectomy. This surgical procedure interrupts nerve signals that send your sweat glands into overproduction.
We start to see more cases of athlete’s foot during the summer. With Chicago’s warm, humid days, it’s easy for feet to get sweaty inside your shoes, particularly if they are of plastic or rubber.
Footwear made with leather or canvas materials doesn’t heat up as quickly and offers better overall breathability. You may also want to consider the fit. Poorly sized and tight shoes squeeze your feet, making them more prone to developing an infection. This sweaty environment traps your feet with no chance of airflow to help dry out the moisture.
Socks also play an important factor when you’re trying to prevent athlete’s foot. Options made from natural fibers, such as cotton, bamboo, and silk, are worth the extra cost because they wick away moisture. These products are also more breathable than synthetic alternatives, such as polyester and acrylic.
If your feet tend to sweat a lot, change socks often throughout the day. In addition to reducing your chances of picking up athlete’s foot, a well-designed pair will keep your skin feeling cool and fresh.
Whenever possible, opt for sandals. Wearing this type of shoe allows air to lower the temperature of your skin and dry out any sweat before it becomes a problem. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can thrive in a tiny amount of sweat, leading to an infection.
Immediately remove your shoes after exercising, and make sure to wash them thoroughly with antibacterial soap every day. Don’t forget to scrub well between your toes, as this is a common starting point for infection. Then, towel dry them thoroughly before you don your sandals.
You should also allow your feet to breathe from time to time. Taking your shoes off and going barefoot provides your skin with maximum airflow on all surfaces. Shoes force your toes to press tightly together, making an ideal condition for fungus to thrive, while time in the open will discourage its growth. Occasionally walking barefoot will also help toughen your soles, making it harder for fungus to take hold.
Because you can transmit athlete’s foot to your housemates by direct contact, you should never share your sandals or other footwear with friends — or even family members. Remember that you can spread athlete’s foot if you walk around barefooted with an active infection. In fact, anything that touches your feet can pass along trichophyton. This dreaded fungi can also lurk on towels and nail files.
Public places, especially pools, gym locker rooms, and nail salons, are common areas that harbor athlete’s foot. If you have a weakened immune system or are prone to infection, consider skipping these ideal breeding grounds. You can always opt for a jog in the park or a scenic bike ride for exercise.
If you can’t avoid these public hotspots for athlete’s foot, always wear shower shoes or flip-flops. Ask your salon professionals about their sanitizing procedures for pedicures and foot baths, and consider bringing your own tools, including clippers and files, to minimize the risk of contamination.
Another way you can help prevent athlete’s foot is to find ways to boost your immune system. An overall healthy individual may be less likely to experience recurring fungal infections. Adding more nutritional supplements, antioxidants, and vitamins to your diet can help improve your body’s capacity to fight this common ailment.
A well-rounded, holistic approach to your health may also include such therapies as essential oil treatments and homeopathic medications, including Traumeel. Medical practitioners have used this nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug for more than 60 years, and dozens of studies support it. It’s a safe and effective way to regulate the inflammatory pathways to promote the healing of affected feet.
These substances accelerate healing time so you can realize optimal results. Thus, athletes like you can quickly recover and get back to performing your best. Thankfully, athlete’s foot is easy to treat. However, if your athlete’s foot doesn’t respond to these methods, it might be time to contact a specialist to examine your feet and prescribe the best treatment.
So, there you have it. Dr. Schoene and our outstanding staff put together this guide to help you prevent athletes’ foot. If you suffer from athlete’s foot, contact us for help. We meet our patients’ needs easily and efficiently with varied treatment modalities, prevention strategies, and rehabilitation.