Athlete’s foot got its name from how common it can be among athletes, but it is an infection caused by fungus, so anyone can get it if they aren’t taking care of their feet. This type of fungus can live in and feed off of dead skin, so your feet are the ideal place for it to grow. The infection first appears on the toes as an itchy rash, but if left untreated the skin between the toes will begin to peel and sufferers will notice discharge. It starts in the toes before it spreads to the feet, so it’s important to start treating the infection as soon as you see the signs.
Starting to treat athlete’s foot at the first sign of it is best, because in an early stage it can usually be eradicated by some basic over-the-counter medication. Antifungal medication for athlete’s foot comes in cream and liquid forms, and spray and powder forms which may be preferable if your feet are prone to perspiration. Use these as directed, and continue to treat your feet for a couple weeks after the infection clears. If the infection does not go away or becomes worse, see your podiatrist. In severe cases, a prescription for anti-fungal medication may be needed. If you are diabetic any foot infection or open sore is potentially dangerous so it is best for a diabetic to see their podiatrist as soon as they notice symptoms of athlete’s foot.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is highly contagious, so precaution is the best when you use communal sports facilities like pools, gyms, and locker rooms. Bring sandals or flip-flops you can wear briefly and wash after each use. Wash your feet with soap each time you bathe and dry them thoroughly, including between the toes (be careful not to share that towel). Let them dry completely before putting on socks or footwear. Putting your clean, dry feet into clean and dry shoes is your best defense against any foot infection. Wash your socks after each wear and always have a clean pair ready. Ideally you can change shoes as well if yours get wet. Whether from sweat or the terrain, if shoes become warm and damp it creates and perfect environment for the fungi that cause foot infections to thrive. Keeping shoes dry and letting them air out between uses is a great way to keep moisture and fungus from collecting. If you can rotate shoes so they completely dry before the next wear, that is an easy way to make sure you’re always in dry shoes!