If you struggle from athlete’s foot, you know the unsightly, uncomfortable condition can really get you down. And if nothing you’ve tried has prevented it from occurring again, you’re in the right place.
At Arlington/Mansfield Foot and Ankle Centers in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, our board-certified providers have years of experience treating fungal infections like athlete’s foot. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide explaining athlete’s foot and why you might struggle to get rid of it.
Reasons you’re getting athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot is a very common and contagious fungal infection. Usually beginning between your toes an itchy red rash, other symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
- Small, red blisters
- Dry scales or flaking on the soles or sides of the feet
- Oozing red sores (in severe cases)
Athletes aren’t the only people susceptible to this contagious fungus — anyone can contract athlete’s foot.
The fungal infection thrives in moist and warm environments, such as sweaty socks and the inside of your shoes. It grows and survives by feeding on keratin, a protein found in your skin, hair, and nails.
Though the name says “foot,” this infection can spread to other parts of your body. All it needs is contact with your skin, usually through transfer on items such as socks, shoes, towels, or floors with dead skin particles.
If you’re not careful, you can keep getting athlete’s foot even after treatment. Repeated exposure to environments where the fungus thrives, failure to completely get rid of the fungus during treatment, or a weakened immune system that struggles to fight off infections can all contribute to a repeat case.
For example, frequenting public pools, showers, or gyms, where the floors are often damp, increases your risk of coming into contact with the fungus. And not thoroughly drying your feet or wearing tight, non-breathable shoes creates an environment where fungus love to grow.
The good news is that you can take preventative measures to reduce your risk of frequent athlete’s foot.
How to stop athlete’s foot before it starts
Athlete’s foot is uncomfortable and can even make you embarrassed about the condition of your feet. Fortunately, if you’re careful, you can stop the infection from taking root. These are our top tips on preventing athlete’s foot from reoccurring.
Keep your shoes on in public spaces
At public pools, spas, showers, and in hotel rooms, it can be easy to go barefoot and forget about the risks of athlete’s foot. But to prevent this infection, keep your soles covered and minimize contact with these surfaces. Wear flip-flops, sandals, or water shoes when you can.
Follow good foot hygiene
Wash your feet every day with soap and dry them well afterward, especially between the toes. Clean, dry feet are essential for preventing athlete’s foot. If your feet get sweaty easily, change your socks often and dry your feet a few times a day.
Wear breathable footwear
Shoe materials like plastic or vinyl prevent your feet from breathing, which keeps in moisture and provides the environment in which fungi thrive. When you can, wear sandals because they allow your feet to dry out and reduce sweating. And when you wear socks, choose cotton!
Don’t share your shoes
If you do laundry with people prone to athlete’s foot, separate your socks, towels, and other items that may come into contact with the fungi! According to research, athlete’s foot fungus can survive in washing machines unless hot water is used.
Always clean and disinfect athletic shoes and gear
Change your shoes and socks immediately after working out, especially if you won’t shower until later. Be sure to clean and disinfect your athletic shoes and gear after each use. You can use hot water or disinfectant wipes or spray to prevent athlete’s foot, and be sure to dry everything thoroughly afterward.
What to do if you suspect athlete’s foot
If you think you have athlete’s foot, start treatment right away. And be sure to wash your socks and contaminated shoes and towels in hot water — with bleach if possible. An early intervention helps stop your athlete’s foot from spreading or worsening.
Depending on your infection, treatments may vary. You may start with an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, spray, or powder; however, this might not be enough to stop the fungus from spreading and causing complications.
Your Arlington/Mansfield Foot and Ankle Centers provider can prescribe a topical or oral antifungal medication to treat your athlete’s foot effectively.
If you’d like to come in for athlete’s foot treatment or have any other questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to set up a consultation! Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at the Arlington/Mansfield Foot and Ankle Center nearest you.