Athlete’s Foot, while common, can be uncomfortable and even painful if not treated correctly and quickly. The good news is that athlete’s foot should resolve in 7-14 days if you take the right precautions.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot occurs when your foot or another area of your body comes into contact with infected skin or a surface that is contaminated with a fungus (a form of ringworm). This fungus thrives in warm, wet environments like sweaty shoes/socks and showers, which is why it’s associated with working out. It is possible to get Athlete’s Foot even if you never go to the gym.
In many cases of Athlete’s Foot, the infected area will:
- Appear pale and sometimes even wrinkly (like if you stay in the bathtub too long)
- Or it will develop redness and itchy, flaky skin
- Pain and bacterial infection are also possible
The most common type of Athlete’s Foot is referred to as a toe web infection and usually appears between the webs of your fourth and fifth toes. There are some other, rarer types of Athlete’s foot.
How To Treat It At Home
The main objectives when treating athlete’s foot at home are to dry out the affected area and to keep it from spreading. First, be sure to keep your feet dry by changing out your socks regularly and avoiding situations where they will stay wet for long periods of time (extended baths or showers, long workouts, etc.).
Because athlete’s foot is contagious as long as the infection is present, it’s important to keep the infected area from touching surfaces that can’t be washed and to launder or wash areas it must touch. Here’s the best way to avoid spread and get rid of the infection fast:
- Don’t scratch! You can spread the fungus to another area like your armpit or groin, and it slows healing.
- Use a medicated foot spray or powder with the antifungal medicine miconazole. It will dry out the area and help kill the fungus.
- Don’t use bleach or peroxide as a treatment for athlete’s foot. These can cause skin to breakdown and ulceration.
- Keep laundry separated
- Separate contaminated laundry from the rest of your washing to prevent spread (keep it out of shared laundry baskets).
- Wash in separate loads so uncontaminated laundry doesn’t get washed with affected socks, etc.
- Launder socks and other clothing/linens that come in contact with the infected area in HOT water.
- If you share a bed with someone, don’t sleep barefoot, as you or the sheets can spread the fungus.
- Change up which shoes you are wearing so they dry out between wears. And always wear socks! You may have to throw out shoes worn without socks, since they can harbor the fungus.
Are There Natural Remedies For Athlete’s Foot?
If you take these steps you should be able to stop the infection in a week or so. If you want more information, check out our article on 6 ways to fight foot fungus. While home treatment can work, it does require a good bit of care. We don’t recommend using natural treatments (like tea tree oil, garlic or even baking soda) because ringworm is a tenacious fungus and often overpowers their anti-fungal properties.
When to See a Podiatrist
If you are experiencing significant pain or itching or if after two weeks of treatment at home, you still have the infection, it’s time to see a podiatrist. They will examine the affected area to determine treatment. They can prescribe a strong antifungal medication and possibly an antibiotic, if needed. They can also help you troubleshoot areas of your routine that may be helping the infection stick around. In addition, they will also check to make sure the infection you have is Athlete’s Foot, in case it is another issue requiring different treatment.
If you’ve been losing the battle against Athlete’s Foot, contact us so we can get you in for an assessment at a location near you.