The threat of athlete's foot is probably the reason you wear flip flops in the shower at the gym. But what if you've taken what you thought were all the necessary precautions and you still end up with feet that seem to be on fire? Then these tips are for you, for greater prevention and treatment to keep your feet funk free.
What is athlete's foot, exactly?
Not exclusive to athletes, athlete's foot is a simple fungal infection often acquired from wet locker room floors. Typically affecting the skin on the feet between the toes, it can spread to other areas of the feet and even the toenails, causing them to thicken and become distorted.
Athlete's foot is much more common in people with moist feet and can be spread by sharing shoes, towels, wash clothes and other personal items. It can also spread to other areas of the body such as the groin, causing " jock itch," and underarms by not carefully washing one's hands after touching infected feet.
Symptoms of athlete's foot include itching, burning, stinging and reddened, cracked or peeling skin possibly accompanied by bleeding and small blisters. When these blisters break, they spread the infection. In severe cases, the skin may thicken and begin to scale. When athlete's foot infects the toenail it causes yellowing and thickening of the nail, odor, white marks and a buildup of debris underneath the nail. Left untreated, athlete's foot may invite secondary fungal infections, making it much more difficult to cure.
Treating Athlete's Foot
Infected feet should be washed at least once daily with warm, soapy water and thoroughly dried. It's critical to keep infected feet dry through frequent changes of moisture-absorbent socks made of cotton or wool. Wearing open-toed sandals is ideal as exposure to air is important, however walking barefoot will spread the infection and get dirt into open sores.
Following the manufacturer's instructions, apply a topical lotion containing one or more of the five ingredients proven to effectively treat foot and nail fungus: butenafine, clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine and tolnaftate. These ingredients can also be found in other products such as foot powders used to eliminate fungus in shoes.
Most of the time, athlete's foot can be treated easily with over-the-counter (OTC) creams and other products. When not treated quickly enough, however, or if the infection has spread, a visit to the doctor may be necessary in order to obtain a prescription athlete's foot cream. Physicians may prescribe oral fungal medications as well.
Preventing Infection In the First Place
To avoid athlete's foot and other fungal infections, good hygiene is key, along with socks made of breathable fabrics like cotton and wool. Change footwear frequently and always wear sandals in locker rooms and other common areas.
Other ways to maintain healthy feet are to trim toenails regularly, cutting straight across rather than trimming corners to avoid causing ingrown toenails. Smooth sharp corners with an emery board or nail file. Exfoliate feet regularly by soaking in a warm foot bath to soften corns and calluses, then buff them with a pumice stone.
Always choose shoes carefully, ensuring they provide proper arch support, cushioning and don't bind or squeeze, which can lead to bunions and other problems. Since manufacturers' sizes often vary, and it may be necessary to try on several different sizes before finding the right fit from one brand to another. Alternate pairs of shoes daily to give feet a change of pace and allow sweat-soaked interiors to dry thoroughly.
Most importantly, don't ignore foot pain. See a podiatrist if symptoms increase or don't resolve after a reasonable amount of time. Shop for great products to care for your feet at eVitamins and keep your feet happy!
Products you may like:
Home Health Products Antifungal Lotion Why you may like this product? In addition to washing and
drying your feet properly, you
need to treat the infection.
This lotion contains
tolnaftate and soothing herbs
to treat athlete's foot and
relieve itching, burning and
O'Keeffe's Healthy Feet Why you may like this product? When feet become dry and crack
open, they're more susceptible
to infection. Keep your feet
at their best with this great
balm from O'Keefe's. This
formula has no scent or oil
and contains a blend of
ingredients to restore
moisture while keeping feet
dry and comfortable.
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