Dry and itchy foot that scales your skin? Burning and stinging sensation in between your toes? Inflammation or swelling that leads to blisters? Oh, you probably have an Athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot, also called tinea pedis (ringworm of the foot) — is a contagious fungal infection that affects the upper layer of the skin of the foot, especially when it’s warm, moist and irritated. It is a term given to almost any inflammatory skin disease that affects the sole of the foot and the skin between the toes. It can also spread to the toenails and the hands. The fungal infection is called athlete’s foot because it’s commonly seen in athletes.
Despite the name, athlete’s foot can happen to anyone. It is a common fungal infection that most people get from walking barefoot in moist, public places like gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools, communal showers, nail salons, and from contaminated socks and clothing. The fungi can also be spread directly from person to person by contact. Most people acquire fungus on the feet from walking barefoot in areas where someone else with athlete’s foot has recently walked. It usually causes burning, stinging, redness, and itching. It also causes flaky, cracked skin on the soles of the foot and between the toes in some people.
Do you think you have an Athlete’s Foot?
If you are experiencing this itchy, stinging, flaky foot and maybe swelling with blisters, the culprit might be the athlete’s foot fungus. Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can be spread to other parts of the body by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere.
Though Athlete’s foot isn’t serious, sometimes it’s hard to cure. Most especially if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system. There are many over the counter treatments available in forms of cream for most cases and prescription medicines for more serious infections. These usually clear up the infection, but it can come back.
If you want to go DIY, multiple home remedies are available, including vinegar soaks, dilute Clorox soaks, and shampoos like Head & Shoulders . Other reported but unverified remedies have included Vicks Vapor Rub and Epsom salts.
- Dilute vinegar soaks or sprays (roughly one part white household vinegar to four parts water)
- Dilute Clorox baths or soaks (approximately ¼ cup household Clorox bleach in one bathtub of water)
Prevention is Better than Cure!
Here are some ways you can do to help prevent athlete’s foot infections:
1. Wear shower shoes, flip-flops, or sandals when walking around pools, gyms, shower or locker areas, and hotel rooms.
The fungus that causes athlete’s foot may be on the floor. Even when taking a shower in a gym, it is important to wear shower shoes or flip flops. You can air out your feet when you are at home by going barefoot.
2. Even if you have not gone barefoot in public areas, keep your feet dry.
This fungus thrives in warm, moist areas such as the one created inside hot, sweaty shoes. Wearing sandals or flip-flops helps when it’s hot outside. Shoes that are made from synthetic materials like plastic and rubber are more likely to cause sweating.
3. Wash your feet every day with soap and completely dry them after washing, especially in between your toes.
To kill the fungus, you will need to wash in 140°F (60°C) water or higher. Combining washing with OTC anti-fungal recommendations should treat most cases of athlete’s foot. Regarding shoes, you can disinfect them using disinfectant wipes (like Clorox wipes) or sprays.
4. Wear socks made of natural fabrics or fabrics that dry quickly or wick moisture away from the skin.
Wear socks made out of breathable fibers, such as cotton or wool, or made out of synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from your skin. Also, be sure to change your socks every day and more often when your socks get sweaty.
5. Alternate the shoes you wear each day, if possible, to ensure shoes are dry when they are put on.
Wear shoes made of breathable materials. Alternate between two pairs of shoes, wearing each pair every other day, to give your shoes time to dry out between uses. Moisture will allow the fungus to continue to grow.
6. If you live with someone who has athlete’s foot, don’t share towels, linens, or shoes.
Wear shoes in areas where infected feet have been.
You might be athletic but if you are experiencing this itchy, stinging, flaky foot and maybe swelling with blisters– you probably have an athlete’s foot infection.
If your athlete’s foot is not improving or is worsening, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.
About The Author
Charlotte has tried every buffet restaurant in the Metro and is on the quest to try the ones in the provinces soon. She's an active blogger and you can find her in her think tank in Marco Polo on weekdays. She used to think Oleia Topical Oil can help her loose weight since it's good for inflammation only to realize it's better for after work massages.