Although athlete’s foot is a common and treatable condition, many people are keen to avoid the condition and ask, how to prevent athlete’s foot? While no-one wants to contract the condition, you may be inadvertently exposing yourself to the fungal spores which cause athlete’s foot. By making minor lifestyle changes, individuals can prevent the condition from taking hold and can also stop the condition from returning, if they’ve contracted it previously.
Caused by fungi known as dermatophytes, athlete’s foot can affect one or both feet. As the infection is highly contagious, patients often develop symptoms on both feet when athlete’s foot is present. In addition to this, the infection may spread to the nails and/or hands, in some cases.
Also referred to as Tinea Pedis, athlete’s foot usually responds well to treatment. However, patients may need to apply a topical solution for a number of days or weeks in order for treatment to be fully effective. By making lifestyle changes, however, individuals may be able to avoid contracting athlete’s foot at all.
Athlete’s Foot generally affects the feet and causes a number of symptoms, such as:
When athlete’s foot is first contracted, individuals may notice that they have increasingly dry skin on one or both feet. As the condition develops, their symptoms may worsen and the skin may begin to peel. Athlete’s foot is particularly noticeable when it affects the inter-digital space, between the toes. This area of skin can become moist and the skin may peel. In some cases, this can result in broken and cracked skin, which may be particularly painful.
Due to the excessive dryness and scaly appearance of the skin, patients with athlete’s foot may experience skin irritation and itching. This can be uncomfortable, particularly if you are unable to use self-care measures when you’re away from home.
Although blistering is not a common symptom of athlete’s foot, it can occur in some cases. If the condition is left untreated, patients may be more likely to develop blistering, as the fungus may spread and/or replicate.
Athlete’s foot, or Tinea Pedis, is a fungal infection which is easily spread from one person to another. The condition is usually contracted when a person comes into contact with the fungal spores which cause the condition. This can happen in a number of ways, including:
If one person has athlete’s foot and they walk around barefoot, the foot will shed fungal spores. When another person walks barefoot in the same area, their skin will pick up these spores and they will be exposed to athlete’s foot. Following this, they may begin to exhibit symptoms of the infection and treatment may be required. Similarly, if an individual has direct contact with someone who has an existing infection, it’s likely that they will also contract the condition.
Furthermore, sharing items, such as socks, shoes, towels or linens, can lead to the spread of athlete’s foot. These items should washed on a very high heat in order to reduce the chance of the infection spreading and, ideally, should not be shared when either person has athlete’s foot.
Fungi, known as dermatophytes, flourishes in warm or moist conditions. In places, such as swimming pools, locker rooms and public showers, these fungal spores can survive for a significant amount of time and may infect many people. When people walk around barefoot in these areas, it’s very easy for athlete’s foot to be spread from one person to another.
In addition to this, wearing tight footwear, sweating excessively and allowing the feet to stay wet for long periods of time can increase the risk of athlete’s foot developing.
If an individual has been unable to prevent athlete’s foot from taking hold, they will need to obtain treatment. Although athlete’s foot should always be diagnosed by a professional, individuals can use over-the-counter treatments in order to eradicate the infection. Commonly, the following types of treatment are used:
Providing over-the-counter solutions are applied to the feet in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, they are usually effective in treating the condition. However, if the patient’s symptoms persist, a stronger topical solution can be prescribed by a physician. In addition to this, patients can be given oral anti-fungal medications if their condition is not improved by the use of topical solutions.
Although athlete’s foot is not a chronic condition, some people find that they contract the infection repeatedly. Whilst some people are more prone to fungal infections, there are lifestyle changes which could prevent the individual from contracting the condition in the future. These include:
If an individual regularly goes swimming or uses the locker room at a gym, they should ensure their feet are covered at all times. Specialist shower shoes can be worn to prevent the spread of infection and many people find that these are useful in preventing athlete’s foot. Similarly, if anyone in a household has athlete’s foot, they should avoid walking around barefoot and should use appropriate footwear in the shower so that the infection is not spread from one person to another.
In general, wearing appropriate footwear can help to reduce the risk of developing athlete’s foot. Tight footwear can increase sweating and this environment enables fungus to thrive and replicate. By wearing shoes made out of breathable fabric, the feet will sweat less and the individual will be less likely to experience athlete’s foot.
As well as choosing appropriate shoes, individuals who wish to avoid athlete’s foot may want to choose their socks carefully. Some fabrics are more likely to cause the feet to sweat, and this can increase the risk of a fungal infection. Particular items such as specialist sports socks, which minimize sweating and remove moisture from the skin’s surface, may help to prevent Athlete’s Foot.
People who exercise or work out frequently are generally more prone to athlete’s foot. As well as spending more time in shared environments, such as gyms, they may spend a lot of time wearing tight footwear, such as trainers. In addition to this, their feet may sweat more than average, if they spend a significant amount of time exercising.
In such cases, individuals may be able to prevent athlete’s foot by investing in more than one pair of trainers. By alternating the shoes they are wearing, individuals allow the trainers to fully dry out before they are worn again. This minimizes the risk of fungal spores replicating in a moist shoe and could prevent the individual from developing the symptoms of athlete’s foot.
Whilst many people are keen to avoid athlete’s foot, it may not always be possible to prevent an infection from developing. By maintaining a good foot care regime and making appropriate lifestyle changes, however, individuals can reduce the risk of contracting Athlete’s Foot and may be able to prevent an infection occurring.