How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is kind of a yucky topic, but it’s important to talk about. It’s easy to contract and often mismanaged, leading to the spread of bacteria. Understanding how athlete’s foot works, the way the infection grows, and how to handle the problem will help you avoid a foot fungus nightmare down the road. Don’t wait until you get athlete’s foot to do something about it – prevent it from happening in the first place.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus called tinea pedis. Pedis means feet, and tinea means ringworm. Athlete’s foot is just a nice way of saying ringworm, which is also the fungus that contributes to jock itch. Despite the name, ringworm isn’t an actual worm. It’s called ringworm because of the raised circular patterns the fungus leaves on the skin. It might look like a worm, but rest assured, no creatures are burrowing beneath the skin.
Ringworm is present in any warm, damp place that people are. This means the showers at the gym aren’t exactly the safest place to go barefoot. It’s easy to catch ringworm near swimming pools, at waterparks, or sharing bathrooms with multiple college roommates. It can spread as quickly as lice.
What Happens if Athlete’s Foot is Left Untreated?
Since athlete’s foot affects the surface of the skin, even slight friction can cause small abrasions. These abrasions can and often will become bacterial infections. Feet are dirty, and even the smallest open wounds on feet pose a huge risk to your health and safety.
Athlete’s foot needs to be treated as soon as signs and symptoms begin to show. If you’re worried you may have been exposed to athlete’s foot, immediately clean your feet and thoroughly dry them. Sanitize your feet if you can. If you can’t wash them with antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer will work in a pinch. The active ingredient in hand sanitizer is rubbing alcohol, which is often used in bacteria killing foot soaks.
Treating Athlete’s Foot
Butenafine hydrochloride is the most common athlete’s foot treatment. It’s the active ingredient in most athlete’s foot creams and products for ringworm. Clotrimazole is a higher strength alternative that’s relatively inexpensive as a generic cream. Both come in tubes and are sold without a prescription. They’re easy to find at any store that sells medicine.
If your fungal infection has also become a bacterial infection, relying on a generic tube of athlete’s foot cream isn’t safe. You might need an antibiotic to prevent the infection from spreading further in your body. The combination of athlete’s foot and diabetic foot complications may even be fatal. Consult your doctor for appropriate care instructions, especially if your athlete’s foot is severe. These antifungals may not work for everyone.
Preventing Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is best prevented by keeping your feet away from water other people have stepped in. Wear shoes in showers that other people have used, and avoid public pools. Keeping your feet dry is crucial, as the fungus replicates easily in water.
If your shoes or socks get wet, take them off and dry your feet immediately. Don’t put them back on until they’re thoroughly dry. If moisture normally accumulates in your shoes through sweat, use a foot powder and wear moisture wicking socks to reduce buildup.
It’s important to wear a comfortable shoe that fits properly. Many people don’t realize they need a wide width shoe, but they exist for a reason. Shoes that fit too snugly trap moisture and cause the foot to sweat excessively. The next time you buy a pair of shoes, ask the sales staff to properly assess your shoe size. Try everything on and take a few steps to make sure your feet have enough room within the shoe.
Dirty shoes and socks can contribute to athlete’s foot related complications. Any bacteria present can worsen a case of athlete’s foot. Some bacteria and fungus will only cause foot odor, stopping short of causing infection. For bad smelling shoes, wash them well and use a powder. Gran’s makes several powders that kill odor causing bacteria, including a cooling variety that may provide relief to athletes and runners.
Maintaining Proper Foot Hygiene
People don’t care for their feet nearly as well as they care for their face or their hair. Their feet just don’t seem as important. Proper foot hygiene is important in preventing foot fungus like athlete’s foot, as well as ingrown toenails. If you’re dealing with smelly feet, Gran’s has you covered.