Athlete’s foot is a common condition that will likely impact 70% of the population at some point in their lives. The fungal infection is not considered severe, but can be incredibly uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to lower your risk and prevent athlete’s foot altogether. Here we will further discuss what athlete’s foot is, common symptoms, and the top ways to protect yourself from getting it.
At Weil Foot & Ankle Institute, we believe that educating our patients is the best way to promote quality foot health. Read on to learn more about athlete’s foot and how you can avoid it.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
In a nutshell, athlete’s foot, also known as foot ringworm and trichophyton, is a type of fungus that spreads to the toes and feet. It received the name “athlete’s foot” because it thrives in warm, damp conditions, which is common among people who participate in athletic sports or activities. It is normal for people to be diagnosed with athlete’s foot at some point in their life, and children are especially at risk because they tend to not wear shoes as often as adults.
While athlete’s foot is not dangerous, it can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. Keep in mind, it is also very contagious and easily spreads from contact with an infected person or surface.
What are the Common Signs and Symptoms?
Identifying signs and symptoms can mean an early diagnosis for patients. Most people can easily recognize if they have athlete’s foot based on the telltale symptoms. It’s not unusual to see changes in your skin or nails before feeling any of the physical symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
Most of the symptoms occur on the soles of the feet or in between the toes. However, in more severe cases, athlete’s foot may also impact the toenails causing them to become thick and brittle. Please note, not everybody experiences all of the symptoms listed here. The severity and longevity of the condition will likely determine how bad the symptoms are. That is why it is essential to identify any changes as soon as possible before symptoms worsen over time.
Now that you know more about athlete’s foot, it’s time to delve into the prevention tips. These quick and easy prevention tips can help you reduce the likelihood that you’ll come into contact with the fungus or the conditions for the fungus to develop. However, even with the best prevention plan in place, it’s challenging to completely avoid athlete’s foot altogether. These tips simply reduce your chances of coming into contact with the fungus or living with worsening conditions.
Know the Risks
Understanding the risks of athlete’s foot will help you take preventative measures. While anybody can get athlete’s foot, you can help yourself out by reducing or eliminating your potential exposure. For instance, because fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, consider avoiding places such as public swimming pools or locker rooms. Frequenting those types of areas is what puts people at the highest risk. Totally avoiding these environments may be realistic for some people, but not always the case for people with certain hobbies or workout routines. If you are an avid swimmer or love frequenting the gym, not to worry–there are other tips that may help you as well.
Wear Appropriate Shoes
Shoe selection can impact several aspects of foot health, including whether or not you are putting yourself at risk of athlete’s foot. The best thing you can do to prevent athlete’s foot is to choose footwear that fits properly and is created with breathability in mind. Choose shoes that don’t trap in moisture and have built-in breathable holes so that moisture and sweat can dry easily. There are several types of shoes on the market that are designed for physical activity. If you work out a lot or participate in sports, try finding shoes that are specially designed for those activities.
Along those same lines, make sure that you’re selecting an appropriate sock for your activities. Avoid wearing socks that trap moisture, and instead, choose socks that are made out of a breathable material such as cotton. If you’re going to be frequenting a public pool or lock room, never go barefoot! Walking around barefoot, in general, puts your feet at risk for exposure. Instead, wear slider sandals or flip flops to protect the bottoms of your feet from coming into direct contact with the fungus.
Practice Good Foot Hygiene
One of the best things you can do for your feet is to keep them clean. Good foot hygiene is critical for more reasons than one. Make sure that you’re washing and drying your feet on a regular basis. Doing so will reduce your chances of fungus thriving on your body.
Even if your feet come into contact with a fungus, regularly washing them can help remove the fungus before it becomes a more significant issue. Consider washing your feet with anti-fungal soap, and make sure that you’re never sharing shoes, socks, or towels with anybody else (even family members!).
Keep Your Feet Dry
As mentioned earlier, fungus thrives in moist conditions. Take care to keep your feet as dry as possible. If you notice that your feet feel moist or sweaty, then make a habit out of changing your socks regularly. It’s good practice to change your socks after a workout and thoroughly dry your feet after showering. Taking these extra precautions ensures that your feet don’t become infected with this uncomfortable fungal infection.
Keeping your feet dry may not be an easy feat for everybody. Fortunately, there is another option: foot powder. A few sprinkles in your sock and shoe can go a long way toward protecting your feet.
Foot powder is a great way to help prevent athlete’s foot. Sometimes people naturally have sweaty hands or feet. Some people frequently workout or participate in sports or other physical activity that leaves their feet sweaty. If this is you, then you’ll definitely want to add in a bit of powder to your socks and shoes. This powder soaks up moisture and helps create a protective barrier between your feet and the moisture. There are specific foot powders out there designed with athlete’s foot in mind. If you aren’t sure which powder is right for you, make sure to reach out to our staff for more tips and information.
Check Your Feet
Early detection is always best. The sooner that you can start a treatment plan for athlete’s foot, the better it will be for your overall foot health. Make sure that you periodically check your feet for any changes in their look or function. Take care to notice the skin on the soles of your feet and between your toes. Don’t forget to check your toenails to see if there are any visible changes in the color or texture. If you do notice any changes, reach out to Weil Foot & Ankle Institute to learn what your next steps should be. Athlete’s foot is oftentimes slow-growing, and identifying it early on could help you treat symptoms before they become more problematic.
When to See a Podiatrist
Many people may be curious about when they should see a podiatrist regarding athlete’s foot. It’s not uncommon for people to let the condition go unchecked, and sometimes it may clear up on its own. However, sometimes athlete’s foot can linger and become a bigger issue over time. To avoid this, it’s important to contact a podiatrist as soon as possible.
The early warning signs of athlete’s foot may not be an immediate cause for concern. However, over time, those symptoms can worsen and lead to infection in some cases. Signs of infection include pain, swelling, pus, and open sores. When infection sets in, you will likely need antibiotics to clear it up. Plus, you don’t want the infection to advance and cause other issues for your health.
When you notice signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot, it’s important to discuss your options right away to avoid complications. However, it becomes absolutely necessary to talk to a medical professional once you have signs of infection. While it may be challenging to treat the fungus, it usually responds well to a variety of treatment options such as over-the-counter medications or anti-fungal treatment options.
Contact Us Today
Athlete’s foot is certainly uncomfortable and can easily get in the way of living your daily life. This isn’t something you have to suffer with in silence. There are effective treatment plans that relieve symptoms and get rid of the fungus completely. Allow our expertise to guide you in the right direction. Are you concerned that you may be living with athlete’s foot? We are here to help. Please contact Weil Foot & Ankle Institute to learn more about our services and to schedule your next appointment. We look forward to working with you to get you back to feeling your best. Contact our office today!