When you think of athlete’s foot, you might feel like it’s only a concern for gym bros who refuse to wear sandals in locker rooms and college kids who share nasty communal showers. But the all-too-common fungal infection can occur in people of all ages and lifestyles — and you can get a case of athlete’s foot with no clear cause or general breach of hygiene. After all, athlete’s foot is notoriously contagious.
When you find yourself with peeling skin and redness between your toes, you may have a case of athlete’s foot. And now? Well, there are several proven treatment options for getting rid of athlete’s foot that are relatively inexpensive, making the infection easy to treat. And that’s not to mention the number of ways to prevent the condition from coming back after you get rid of athlete’s foot. All you need are the foot facts to keep your fungal enemies at bay – and luckily, you’ve come to the right place for an education on athlete’s foot.
Looking to get rid of athlete’s foot fungus or prevent it all together? Here’s how to identify and cure a case of athlete’s foot based on solid advice from experts.
First of all, what is athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection caused by various types of fungi all belonging to a group called dermatophytes, which is also responsible for conditions such as jock itch and ringworm, reports Healthline. Yes, it is a myth that athlete’s foot only affects the feet. You can possibly get “athlete’s foot” on your arm, groin, under your armpit, under your fingernails, and in even more places, but it is sometimes called something else, such as ringworm or jock itch or just a fungal infection. The fungi that cause athlete’s foot thrive in dark, warm, moist parts of the body and feed on the protein found in hair, skin and nails called keratin.
Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread through direct contact with skin particles left on floors, towels, clothing, or shoes. This is why it is synonymous with gym changing rooms and communal showers.
What does athlete’s foot look like?
Athlete’s foot often occurs between the toes – remember that the offending fungi thrive in dark, warm, damp places. The infection is characterized by an itchy red rash between the toes, peeling or peeling between the toes, skin that appears under the foot, and small blisters or open sores.
If you handle your feet, the condition can also spread to your hands. If this happens, you will notice flaking or redness between your fingers or under your fingernails, as this is the best environment for fungus to grow. The fungal infection can also spread to your groin via your hands or towel, appearing as an itch, according to the Mayo Clinic. The rash-like appearance mimics the appearance of athlete’s foot but occurs on the inner thighs and near the genitals.
How to Get Rid of Athlete’s Foot Fast
According to experts, the best way to get rid of athlete’s foot is to use over-the-counter antifungal products to manage the infection. Dermatologists and doctors recommends treating your feet with antifungal powder, creams or sprays as recommended by the given brand, which is often twice a day. To prevent athlete’s foot from returning, continue treatment as recommended for one to two weeks after the infection clears.
At the first sign of infection, devote yourself to washing your feet morning and night, drying them thoroughly to avoid any moist areas where athlete’s foot can thrive. Change your socks once a day or more, and don’t wear the same shoes day after day, letting each pair dry completely before wearing them again. Treating your shoes with antifungal powder before putting them on can also help manage the infection. If you’re looking for a foot powder to treat athlete’s foot, Mayo Clinic recommends brands like Gold Bond, Lotrimin, and Zeasorb.
Whenever possible, walk barefoot or wear sandals to let your feet breathe and heal. Experts recommend wearing moisture-wicking socks (not cotton) to discourage fungal growth when walking barefoot isn’t practical.
There are many home remedies for athlete’s foot, although these treatments have largely not been studied for their effectiveness. Tree oil, for example, is said to reduce the itching, flaking, swelling and burning of athlete’s foot when applied topically, but experts say it can take a month to heal. see progress and it doesn’t work for everyone, according to Mayo. Clinical. Bitter orange oil, which should be diluted before topical application, is also a natural antifungal that can help treat athlete’s foot, but it can inflame your skin if not diluted properly and can make your skin more prone to sunburn. When it comes to getting rid of athlete’s foot, most experts recommend looking for dedicated over-the-counter products rather than using home remedies for the fastest and most effective relief.
Beware of particularly harsh treatments, such as some foot peels, when trying to get rid of athlete’s foot. Although treatments like this are known to treat dry, dead skin, they can aggravate the burning, itching and tenderness associated with athlete’s foot, according to some medical professionals. It is also recommended to suspend pedicures until the athlete’s foot infection is good and healed. While it might be tempting to have someone else take care of all that flaking skin, a pedicure while having athlete’s foot can actually make the condition worse, not to mention make you can infect others who use the facility after you, reports the Chicago Tribune. Most reputable nail salons will likely turn you down if you have a noticeable fungal infection anyway.
Some cases of athlete’s foot can be treated at home, but you may need to call in backup if you have a particularly severe case of athlete’s foot. If you don’t notice improvement within two weeks of using over-the-counter antifungal products, experts recommend seeing a doctor.
How to prevent athlete’s foot from coming back
Athlete’s foot thrives on sweaty feet, especially sweaty feet confined to a small area. To prevent the condition before it starts, walk around the house barefoot as much as possible to let your feet breathe. Experts recommend changing your socks at least once a day (or more if your feet are particularly sweaty) and wearing a different pair of shoes each day to let your shoes dry out from sweat and humidity.
Having good basic hygiene can also help prevent illness. Wash your feet daily with warm water and soap, making sure to dry them thoroughly. If you’re prone to athlete’s foot, experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend applying a medicated foot powder after washing as a preventative.
It’s also essential to protect your feet in public places, as athlete’s foot spreads via surfaces. Be sure to wear sandals or waterproof shoes around public pools, showers, and locker rooms to avoid contracting the fungal infection.