How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot This Summer

Summer has arrived and with sandal season comes time off work and school, days by the pool, lake, or beach, and picnics in the park. But if you get tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot, this summer, you could end up too preoccupied about your tootsies to enjoy the sand between your toes.  

With two locations in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, the board-certified podiatrists at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers are experts at treating fungal infections, like athlete’s foot. We also know that prevention is the best medicine, so our team has curated a list to help you better understand how you can prevent summer athlete’s foot before it starts.   

Read on to learn more about stopping this common fungal infection! 

What is athlete’s foot?

The common, contagious fungal infection called tinea pedis or athlete’s foot typically starts as a red, itchy rash between your toes. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

While it gets its name because of the prevalence among athletes who share grimy locker room floors, you don’t need to play a sport to get athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot thrives in moist and warm environments, such as inside sweaty shoes and socks. It grows and survives by consuming keratin, a type of protein found in your hair, skin, and nails. 

While athlete’s foot loves to live and grow on feet, the fungus isn’t tied to your toes. Athlete’s foot is able to spread to other parts of your body when it comes in contact with it or by being transferred through items like towels, socks, shoes, or floors that may have particles of dead skin.    

How can I prevent athlete’s foot this summer?

Summer is definitely the season for athlete’s foot, which loves sweaty feet and warm, moist weather. To help you avoid contracting this pesky fungal infection, here are our top six tips:

1. Get in the habit of good foot hygiene

Keeping your feet clean and dry is an important step in preventing athlete’s foot. Be sure to wash your feet with soap daily, and don’t forget to dry them thoroughly — especially between your toes! If you suffer from sweaty foot, dry them periodically throughout the day.

2. Select footwear with care

Stay fungus-free by choosing footwear that lets your feet breathe and doesn’t keep in moisture and heat, like plastic or vinyl. Wear sandals as often as you can to help feet dry out and keep your skin temperature low to prevent sweating. If you wear socks in the summer, choose natural materials, like cotton. 

3. Don’t share shoes

To avoid athlete’s foot, it’s better to keep your shoes to yourself. If you live or do laundry with people who have athlete’s foot or are prone to it, keep your socks, towels, and other laundry separate. Research indicates the fungus that causes athlete’s foot is able to survive on surfaces and in washing machines unless they’re run using hot water.  

4. Clean and disinfect gym shoes and gear

After working out, change shoes immediately — especially if you won’t be able to shower until later. It’s also a good idea to clean and disinfect your shoes and gym gear after each use, using hot water and/or disinfectant wipes or spray. Don’t forget to dry everything thoroughly.   

5. Keep your soles covered

While it’s tempting to go barefoot by public pools, spas, showers, and hotel rooms, to prevent athlete’s foot it’s important to keep your soles covered and minimize contact with surfaces. Cover your soles by wearing flip flops, sandals, or water shoes.  

6. Act at the first signs of athlete’s foot

If you do see signs of athlete’s foot, don’t wait to start treatment! Early treatment helps stop athlete’s foot from spreading or getting worse.

Use an over-the-counter antifungal spray or cream. Follow the instructions on the package and use it regularly. You’ll also want to wash your socks in hot water — with bleach, if possible. And don’t forget to disinfect any shoes and towels that may be contaminated.  

Should I seek professional help?

While athlete’s foot can sometimes resolve with over-the-counter treatments, it isn’t always enough to stop this stubborn fungus from spreading and causing complications associated with athlete’s foot. 

Seek professional help early to reduce the risk of complications and to help alleviate your symptoms. The team at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle centers evaluates your condition to create a personalized treatment plan just for you.    

Are you interested in learning more about preventing athlete’s foot this summer? Contact the Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Center nearest you or request an appointment online now!

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