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Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that forms when an individual wears tight shoes, creating an environment for bacteria to thrive in. In addition, sweat and other liquids can worsen athlete’s foot and increase the chances of an infection.
The infection is usually not something to worry about. It is seldom life-threatening and completely treatable. The thing about athlete’s foot, though, is that it is very contagious. You should not be around others with this condition or use their equipment. The same goes if you have this fungal infection. There are ways to prevent, manage, and treat this easily.
Causes and Ways to Spread Athlete’s Foot
The only cause for athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. The fungus lives and thrives in wet and humid areas throughout the ground. Therefore, the only way to catch and spread it is to come in close contact with something with the infection.
Since athletes share a space to shower, cool down, and practice, they can contract athlete’s foot if they are barefoot. The fungus can live on the showers and floor.
You can spread this condition by:
- Sharing a towel
- Using dirty socks that touched the floor
- Reusing shoes
- Walking barefoot in a locker room
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
The most common symptoms of athlete’s foot are visible and include:
- Scaly skin between the toes
- Cracking or peeling skin
- Redness on the top of the foot
- Dry skin on the bottom of your foot
- Itchiness when something is in contact with your food
Risks of Athlete’s Foot
There are also some types of people who have a higher chance of contracting this fungal infection. For example, an athlete who uses a shared space may contract it. It only thrives and worsens if the individual wears tight shoes and doesn’t let their feet breathe. People who sweat a lot and live in humid areas also have a higher risk of developing this condition.
Anyone with diabetes can have complications because of this fungal infection. Since diabetes can slow down someone’s ability to fight off infections, the fungal infection can result in a loss of movement and feeling. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact a medical professional as soon as possible to get treatment.
Diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot
There are no direct tests to indicate that you have athlete’s foot. Most of the time, a doctor will simply do a physical exam and ask questions about your daily activity. The way the fungal infection spreads and how it is contained to the foot is a clear indication that the skin condition is a fungal infection.
If your doctor is unsure, they may order a skin scraping of the affected area. However, this would not be to conclude the diagnosis but to eliminate other potential skin diseases. The scraping is sent to a lab, where the results are concluded within a few weeks.
How to Treat Athlete’s Foot
Usually, this fungal infection goes away on its own. However, your doctor can prescribe you a few things to help speed up the process. To treat athlete’s foot, you can use a prescription-strength cream. It is rare that you will need something stronger as the infection does not spread past your foot.
However, there are a few things you need to change and manage as you further develop athlete’s foot.
How to Manage Athlete’s Foot
As the athlete’s foot treatment starts working, there are a few things you need to ensure so that it does not come back or worsen. For a few days, don’t wear socks if you can while also staying off your feet and keeping them dry. This is a bit difficult for athletes since they are always outside practicing and sweating. However, the sweat will only continue to irritate your skin and cause a deeper, redder rash. While you are recovering, don’t wear the same shoes constantly. It takes over eight hours for your shoes to air dry, longer depending on the air quality in your home. If it does not dry properly and you continue to use it, you can contract athlete’s foot again.
The condition should especially be managed for those at-risk, like individuals with diabetes.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
If you do not want to develop this condition, there are many things you can do to avoid fungal infections.
- Get waterproof shoes. This way, no water enters and touches your feet, causing athlete’s foot again.
- Change your socks regularly. If you sweat a lot and play a sport that focuses on your legs and feet, bring an extra pair or two. Before you change your socks, however, dry them properly with a towel.
- Be sure to avoid sharing towels too. There is no way of knowing whether others have a fungal infection (unless they have visible symptoms) and it can spread to you if you use their things. This does not only include towels but shirts, shoes, socks, and blankets.
- When you are not working or playing a sport, try using sandals to let your feet breathe. This will decrease the chances of a fungal infection and bacteria getting trapped between your socks and feet.
Conclusions on Athlete’s Foot
In conclusion, athlete’s foot is an uncomfortable fungal infection that mainly affects your feet. This infection is not life-threatening and mainly causes discomfort at most. While this is the case, you should still avoid getting it as the symptoms are not enjoyable.
To prevent yourself from getting or spreading it, you should frequently change your socks (especially if you sweat) and avoid borrowing other people’s garments. In public and shared spaces, always use shoes that are waterproof. With these preventative techniques, you reduce your risk for athlete’s foot.
- Is there an at-home remedy I can use for athlete’s foot? Yes, it may not be as effective as a doctor’s prescription medication or ointment, but you can use rubbing alcohol and it has been effective in many cases. If you are in search of natural remedies: tea-tree oil and garlic have also proven to work.
- What will happen if I leave athlete’s foot untreated? This is not a good idea. If you leave this condition untreated it can spread to your toenails and cause fungal infection which will be much more difficult and painful to treat.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!