Itchy toes? Here’s how to keep Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections under control.
April is Foot Health Awareness month! As the weather warms up more of us are getting outside—or hitting the gym. When your socks are soaked from a spring rainstorm or a sweaty workout, conditions are ideal for foot fungus to strike.
Athlete’s foot is the most common type of foot fungus, but some infections can be serious—even spreading to the toenails. It’s known for being tough to get rid of, but there are six simple ways to reduce your chance of infection:
- Know where it grows
- Keep your socks, shoes, and feet dry
- Use a medicated powder daily
- Don’t scratch!
- Avoid sharing linens or equipment
- See your podiatrist
1. Know Where It Grows
Athlete’s foot thrives in damp places. Gyms, locker rooms, and public pools are breeding grounds for the types of fungus that cause athlete’s foot—that’s how it got its name! Sweaty equipment, wet floors, and damp towels provide easy ways for the fungus to spread. Being careful in shared public spaces can reduce your chance of infection. If you’re heading to the pool or showering at the gym, wear a pair of waterproof sandals or shoes instead of going barefoot.
2. Keep Your Socks, Shoes, And Feet Dry
To fight foot fungus, it’s crucial to keep your feet as clean and dry as possible. If you’re prone to having sweaty feet, plan on changing your socks a couple times a day. Choose shoes that are breathable, especially during physical activities.
Speaking of shoes, try not to wear the same pair of shoes every day—rotating your footwear allows your shoes to completely dry out.
3. Use A Medicated Powder Daily
Over the counter treatments include sprays and medicated foot powders. These typically contain the antifungal medicine miconazole. Applying these products after thoroughly washing and drying your feet may help keep athlete’s foot at bay—but it’s important to be consistent. If your athlete’s foot doesn’t seem to be clearing up, it may be time for a prescription medication from your podiatrist.
4. Don’t Scratch!
Athlete’s foot can be incredibly itchy. It’s uncomfortable, but remember to be gentle with your feet—scratching can damage the skin, allowing the infection to deepen. Even worse, athlete’s foot spreads easily to other areas of the body (the same fungus is the cause of jock itch and ringworm), and scratching makes it more likely to spread!
5. Avoid Sharing Linens Or Equipment
Athlete’s foot is highly contagious—and loves damp environments. That means it spreads easily on wet towels and sweaty gym mats. Try to avoid sharing anything that may be exposed to moisture: towels, bedding, mats, and athletic equipment.
6. See Your Podiatrist
People often believe they can take care of athlete’s foot on their own, but it’s a good idea to see your podiatrist for a diagnosis.
Podiatrists are foot specialists, and they can prescribe a range of prescription-strength ointments that are more powerful than over-the-counter options. If you’re suffering from athlete’s foot or any other foot problems, make an appointment with a podiatrist and keep your feet happy!