How to prevent Athlete’s Foot

The air-conditioning was broken in the office so you spent a good eight hours sweating through meetings and to top it off you thought you’d go healthy and catch public transport, squished between hot sweaty bodies only to extricate yourself from the crowded train to walk home in the sweltering 35 degree heat.

Your clothes are soaked through from head to toe. All you want is to kick off your shoes and… surprise! An incredible smell diffuses around the room and seems to follow you no matter where you walk at home. As you get ready for a cold shower you look at your feet and see the skin around your toes looking white and moist. You’ve never had eczema before so what could it be?

What is Athlete’s Foot?

Tinea pedis (Athlete’s Foot) is the most common fungal infection. It usually occurs in the toe webs, especially between the fourth and fifth toe. The skin will appear white and moist and is also normally itchy and may have an unpleasant smell. In some instances, the fungal infection can spread to the sole and instep of the foot and can even affect the nails. For this reason it is important to treat Athlete’s Foot as soon as possible or have the doctor of pharmacist take a look at it if you are unsure whether it is fungal infection.

How do you catch Athlete’s Foot?

Fungal infections spread very easily. You can either get it from direct contact with someone who has fungal infection or indirectly through exposure to a contaminated surface such as showers, change rooms, swimming pools and spas. Tinea loves warm, moist environments so the feet really are an ideal environment, especially if you have sweaty feet and even more so if you wear synthetic socks that make your feet sweat, or you wear rubber shoes.

How to prevent Athlete’s Foot

Knowing the type of environments that Tinea thrives in can help you be aware of how to minimise your risk of getting Athlete’s Foot. If you have Athlete’s Foot, the below tips can also help reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other parts of your body and to other people.

  • Maintain good hygiene and keep the skin and feet clean and dry.
  • Gently rub the skin between the toes with a cotton bud to remove dead skin.
  • Wear clean cotton socks. Change socks daily or even more regularly in hot weather.
  • Wear shoes made of leather or breathable material. Allow shoes to dry out before wearing them again.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas. Wear thongs, washable sandals or shoes if using communal showers at swimming centres or gyms.
  • At home, wear sandals to air feet, especially in warm humid weather.
  • Use an antiperspirant product if your feet sweat a lot.
  • Clean the base of the shower or bath with disinfectant so you don’t re-infect yourself and others.

Treatment

Athlete’s Foot can be treated effectively with topical preparations found at the pharmacy. It’s important to continue treatment for 1-2 weeks after your symptoms have resolved. If unsure about which product suits you, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

  Example Benefits
Cream Canesten, Clonea, Pevaryl, Daktarin, Lamisil, Ego Resolve, Canesten Once Daily Used for dry, scaling tinea.
Lotion Lamisil Once Can be drying. Good for tinea between the toes and on large or hairy areas.
Powder Ego Resolve, Daktarin Absorbs moisture and helps decrease friction. Can be used on the feet.
Spray Lamisil Spray, Tindaderm, Daktarin Useful for large, hairy or painful areas.
Tincture Loceryl Nail Lacquer, Canesten Fungal Nail Treatment Set, Daktarin Tincture

 

Used on nails. Not to be used on open or inflamed lesions.

Recap

Athlete’s Foot can be spread very easily so it is important to take precautions to minimise your risk of getting it. If you do have Athlete’s Foot, practice self-care measures to maximise treatment and minimise spreading the fungal infection to other parts of your body and to other people. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if the rash starts to ooze, weep or smell, doesn’t get better with treatment, nails are infected (yellow, thick and crumbly), and if you have diabetes, poor circulation or a weakened immune system.

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