An athlete’s foot can be an itchy, irritating, and painfully annoying skin condition for you or your child to bear with, but it’s also one you can take steps to overcome.
We have previously focused on what to do when an athlete’s foot infection strikes, but an even more preferable alternative is preventing it in the first place! While we can never guarantee that you may never pick up a case of athlete’s foot by sheer bad luck, there are plenty of easy, common-sense steps you can take to greatly reduce the risk of the fungus taking up residence on your feet.
And most athlete’s foot prevention advice falls neatly into place once you understand exactly how to fight against it.
What Athlete’s Foot Fungus Needs
Have you ever seen the “fire triangle”? It focuses on three things that a fire needs to remain active: oxygen, heat, and a source of fuel. Remove any of those elements and the fire will likely die out.
Similarly, an athlete’s foot also needs several things to thrive:
- Food (e.g. the old skin cells on your feet)
By taking steps to limit the availability of the above items, the chances of an athlete’s foot being able to take a hold on your feet can significantly drop. It’s really simple!
Protect Your Feet in High-Traffic Areas
If an athlete’s foot fungus thrives in places that have an abundance of warmth, wetness, and bare feet, then certain locations will often carry some risk of transmission. We’re talking about places like gyms, locker rooms, and around public pools.
You never know if someone may be bringing fungus into these areas, so it’s always a smart idea to keep your feet protected against exposure. Footwear can serve as the barrier you need.
The most effective and recommended foot coverings you can use are water shoes or aqua socks, which do a great job of covering the whole of the foot. If you do not have these or are dead set against wearing them, shower shoes or sandals can also provide a lesser amount of protection – they’re better than nothing.
Keep Your Feet Dry
It’s easy for our feet to spend more time around moisture than we think. Not only can we get shoes and socks wet from working in certain environments, but our sweat can provide a more inviting environment for fungus if it consistently remains against the feet as well.
There are a few ways to counter wetness in footwear. The first is choosing socks and shoes that wick moisture away from your feet and allow more circulation of air whenever possible.
Cotton, while a popular fabric, is unfortunately not very good at keeping moisture away from our skin. Materials such as wool (specifically Merino wool) and synthetics such as nylon and Lycra provide a better job at keeping feet dryer and a less hospitable place for athlete’s foot fungus.
Also, be mindful of how damp your shoes may become after a day of use. Give each pair you wear at least 24 hours of “off-time” to air dry. This will provide more arid conditions that most types of fungus will hate. If you can’t wait 24 hours to put a pair of shoes back on (because you need that one specific pair for work, for example), an electric boot dryer can help you dry out your footwear faster.
Don’t Sweat It
Sometimes our feet can sweat a lot. Perhaps we are working in a hot environment, or maybe our feet are just naturally inclined to sweat more.
Either way, waiting until the end of the day to get out sweat-soaked socks might not cut it. For these instances, it can be helpful to have a fresh pair of socks to switch into halfway through the day. Not only can it help keep your feet dryer, but it can make the rest of your day a lot more comfortable as well.
And if you do feel your feet sweat more than they should, that may be a sign of a treatable condition. Please don’t hesitate to see us about it; we may be able to help!
Keep Your Feet Clean (and Still Dry)
Naturally, following good hygiene for your feet will also help keep athlete’s foot and other fungal infections from maintaining a hold.
Make sure to clean your feet with warm water, a washcloth/loofah, and a mild soap every day. (And no, just standing in the shower and letting soapy runner run down over your feet is not good enough).
After washing your feet, make sure they are gently yet thoroughly dried before slipping on socks and shoes. Don’t forget to get between your toes, as accumulated moisture there can become a haven for fungus.
In addition to keeping your feet clean, make sure your nails are properly trimmed as well. You do not have to cut them dramatically short, but having overly long and unkempt nails provides more areas for fungus to live and spread. This can also help you avoid toenail fungus.
Stay One Step Ahead of Athlete’s Foot
Encouraging good foot care habits in you and your family can help everyone have a much lower chance of contracting not only athlete’s foot but other unwelcome fungal infections as well.
But if you do happen to run into the burning, itching trouble of athlete’s foot and home care is not providing the results you need, we’re always here to provide the professional support you need. Of course, you don’t even have to wait and try home care if the symptoms or severe or you have any other concerns whatsoever!
Schedule an appointment at our Berkley office by giving us a call or by filling out our online contact form.