Athlete’s Foot: Prevention, Causes and Treatments
Athlete's foot is the common name for a fungal infection known as tinea pedis. We tell you how it is caused, how you can prevent it and how it should be treated.
Athlete's foot is a very common skin infection that starts at your toes and continues onward to the soles of your feet. It is characterised by a scaly, red rash that itches, burns and occasionally oozes. While it is a very common condition with athletes, because their feet sweat a lot while they are wearing tight sports shoes, it can affect nonathletic people as well.
Causes of athlete's foot
Athlete's foot is caused by the same fungus that causes ringworm and jock itch. Some people are more susceptible to it than others. If it has been caused by fungus it is contagious, so you can get it by walking barefoot in an area where a person who has athlete's foot has already walked. Places like gym locker rooms and swimming pool changing areas are very prone to spreading the infection. You can also get it through direct contact, if your foot happens to touch the foot of the person who has athlete's foot, or if you happen to come in contact with contaminated socks or shoes of theirs.
Since it is contagious, it can spread to other parts of your body as well, like your other foot, your groin or even your hands, if you use them to scratch your feet. When athlete's food spreads to the groin, it is known as tinea cruris and when it spreads to the hands it is known as tinea mannum. If you have it in more than one place, it is important to treat all of them simultaneously in order to ensure that you don't infect yourself again.
Preventing athlete's foot
These are some of the measures you can take to avoid getting athlete's foot:
• Wash your feet often, making sure you use soap and water to clean them thoroughly.
• Dry your feet well after washing them, so that no moisture remains between your toes.
• Wear clean socks, preferably made of cotton. If you sweat a lot, then change your socks often.
• Wear well ventilated shoes and try to alternate between two pairs, so that they get a little time to dry out before you wear them again.
• After exercising, remove your socks and shoes and wash your feet. Do not wear the same socks again until they have been washed.
• Do not share your socks, shoes or towels with anyone.
• Try not to roam around barefoot in locker rooms or changing areas. Wear either slippers or shower sandals to protect your feet.
• Use antifungal powder before putting on your socks and shoes.
Treating athlete's foot
There are several antifungal creams and lotions that can be used to treat athlete's foot, however it is best to visit your doctor to figure out which one would be best for you. In the meantime, try to keep your feet clean and dry, in order to prevent the infection from spreading. Wet feet will most certainly cause the fungus to grow. You can apply antifungal powder on your feet and soak them in a mixture of one part white vinegar and four parts water for 10 minutes every day.
*Image courtesy: Thinkstock/Getty Images
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