If you’ve ever had athlete’s foot before—and statistically speaking, you probably have at least once—you already know how itchy, uncomfortable, and irritating it can be. The discomfort is often at its worst right after you take off your socks. The urge to scratch can be overwhelming! The good news is that most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated fairly easily using topical medications. If over-the-counter antifungals don’t work, we can get you something stronger. The catch, though, is making sure athlete’s foot stays gone. This is not a condition that your body can build up an immunity to. If you don’t make some changes to how you take care of your feet, the risk that you’ll just end up developing athlete’s foot again (and again, and again) remains high. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple things you can do in your day-to-day life that can significantly improve your chances of keeping athlete’s foot away for good.
11 Tips to Keep Athlete’s Foot Away
Wear protective footwear in public places.
The kinds of fungi that cause athlete’s foot love warm, damp environments, and they can stay active on infected surfaces for a long period of time. So if you’re going to the gym, swimming pool, or other public spots, make sure you have something on your feet. Shower shoes and water shoes are great, but even flip flops are better than nothing.
Wash your feet every day.
Good daily hygiene is critical if you want to stamp out the fungus before it can become established. Wash thoroughly with soap and water. Dry thoroughly afterward. Don’t forget about the damp spaces between the toes—a spot that athlete’s foot loves to attack.
Keep your feet (and footwear) dry.
If your socks or shoes become damp during the course of the day, change them out for dry ones. Have at least 2 pairs of “everyday” shoes that you can rotate between on at least a daily basis, so that each pair can dry thoroughly before you put them on again. Also, make sure that your feet themselves are completely dry before putting on your socks and shoes.
Choose wider, more breathable footwear.
This goes along with the previous point, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. Selecting shoes made from breathable fabrics that are wide enough in the toe box to give your toes some wiggle room can make a big difference, along with moisture-wicking socks.
Use antifungal powders or sprays in shoes.
For an extra bit of defense, using an antifungal in your shoes daily is strongly recommended, especially if you have a history of athlete’s foot or fungal toenails.
Discard old shoes if they have already been exposed to your athlete’s foot.
Once the fungi have made their home in your shoes, the safest way to prevent a reinfection is to chuck them out.
Don’t share clothes, towels, or tools.
This primarily includes socks and shoes, unwashed towels, or accessories like nail clippers or skincare tools.
Wash socks, towels, and other clothes with hot water and bleach.
This is the best way to ensure you kill as much of the fungi as possible. Soapy, warm water on its own may not do the trick.
Treat any fungal infections you develop promptly.
The same varieties of fungi that cause athlete’s foot can also cause fungal toenails, as well as other fungal skin infections like ringworm or jock itch. Treating these infections quickly and completely, wherever and whenever they appear on your body, means they have less opportunity to spread.
Follow through with treatment.
If an antifungal cream says to take it for four weeks, take it for four weeks—even if symptoms have cleared up much earlier. Abandoning the treatment protocol halfway through may mean some of the fungi stay on your skin, ready to make a comeback.
Be selective about your nail salon.
Fungal and bacterial infections have been known to spread from person to person who may have shared tools or foot baths at a spa or salon. If you like to get an occasional pedicure, make sure your salon and technicians are fully licensed and sterilize all equipment between customers (or use single-use tools).
What to Do When Prevention Fails
If you notice itchiness, redness, or other signs of athlete’s foot—despite your best efforts to prevent it—don’t panic! But do begin treatment immediately.Most mild-to-moderate cases of athlete’s foot can be cured by using an over-the-counter antifungal product and following the complete treatment plan recommended on the package.However, if you find that your athlete’s foot isn’t getting better, is getting worse, or keeps coming back, please don’t hesitate to call us. You shouldn’t have to put up with itchy feet, and you definitely don’t want it to spread to your toenails.We will likely want to perform a diagnostic test to confirm that athlete’s foot really is what you’re dealing with, as there are a few other skin conditions that can produce similar symptoms. If it is athlete’s foot, we’re happy to provide you with stronger antifungal treatments than what you can find on a pharmacy shelf. And if it isn’t, we’ll be able to provide an alternative treatment plan that we believe will work better.
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