Athlete's foot is one of the most common fungal infections of the skin and is frequently seen in our Port Washington, New York office. Whether you've had it or not, it's important to understand how you can avoid and treat this contagious infection if you do contract it.
The fungus that causes athlete's foot thrives in damp, moist environments and often grows in warm, humid climates, such as locker rooms, showers and public pools; bath tubs, shoes (old and worn) hence the name "athlete's foot. " This infection can itch and burn causing the skin on your feet and between your toes to crack and peel and form tiny blisters.
Tips from NY Sports Podiatry for avoiding Athlete's Foot:
- Keep your feet dry, allowing them to air out as much as possible
- Wear socks that draw moisture away from your feet (use socks made from "wicking fibers" ie Coolmax, Dri Fit, Wright Sock) and change them frequently if you perspire heavily (read my blog on "Choosing the right athletic sock").
- Wear light, well-ventilated shoes.
- Alternate pairs of shoes, allowing time for your shoes to dry each day
- Always wear waterproof shoes in public areas, such as pools, locker rooms, or communal showers. All it takes is 1 or 2 barefoot steps in a public place to contract a fungus. It's OK to be a little neurotic about your barefoot walking in public places.
- Never borrow shoes due to the risk of spreading a fungal infection.
- If you have successfully treated a foot fungus, go ahead and throw those old shoes out. Fungus lives inside a wet, perspired shoe with a lot of miles on them. Treat yourself to new ones. Nothing is worse than spending time and money on curing a foot fungus only to reinfect yourself by placing your feet back into the same environment that caused it.
A mild case of athlete's foot can generally be cured with over-the-counter antifungal creams. Try to avoid the sprays. They are quick to use but not easy to get between the toes. Make sure you use the creams longer than the 2-3 days that most commercials advertise. Nothing is more frustrating than to watch an antifungal commercial that promises to get rid of your athlete's foot in just 2-3 days. You may be able to get the itching and burning under control in that short time but you definitely won't "cure yourself" of the fungus. Use the creams for 4-6 weeks to kill the beast.
Some fungal infections may not respond to over the counter medications and may require prescribed anti-fungal medication. Generally, it's always best to consult with your sports podiatrist before choosing a treatment.
Mild cases of athlete's foot can turn severe and even cause a serious secondary bacterial infection. If you notice your rash has become increasingly red, swollen and painful or you develop blisters and sores, call our Port Washington, New York office right away. Athlete's foot left untreated could eventually spread to other body parts (Men, ever wonder where that "jock itch" came from?) and infect other people around you.
Keep in mind that other skin irritations can mimic foot fungal infections (say that 3 times fast). Eczema, allergic skin reactions to new or uncommon shoe materials (also known as contact dermatitis), psoriasis and other dermatologic skin conditions can look and behave like a fungus. You can put apply all the antifungal medication you can find, but if it's not a fungus, it won't work.
With the right treatment, you'll be cured of your athlete's foot in no time, which means the sooner you can enjoy the activities you love without pain and irritation!
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