2 Athlete Foot Mistakes To Avoid

If you see patches of red and dry skin in between your toes, then it is likely that you have a case of athlete's foot. You may even have the condition if you see cracked skin across the heels and bottoms of your feet or if you notice large blisters forming. Once irregular patches appear or the feet seem unnaturally sore, meet with a podiatrist so that a positive diagnosis can be made. A simple visual inspection may be enough to identify the athlete's foot or a swab will be taken and tested. Testing will help to rule out both viral and bacterial infections that can sometimes produce similar symptoms as fungal infections. Usually, an anti-fungal cream will be prescribed to get rid of the fungi. However, an oral medication may be needed if the condition continues or worsens over time. You can prevent this from happening by making sure that you do not make the two common mistakes listed below.

Wearing the Same Shoes

The fungi that cause athlete's foot can be easily transferred from one person to another though skin contact. Even if direct contact is not made, the fungi can release from the feet of an infected individual and thrive in certain indoor or outdoor areas for a long period of time. The feet serve as the food source for the fungi, but the fungi can survive without food as long as they remain in wet and dark areas. The fungi then lie dormant until a bare foot picks up one or several hyphae from the ground. These fungal cells are extremely small, but they are tough enough to break through the skin. Once this occurs, new cells are produced and the infection spreads.

Unfortunately for you, fungi will not only remain dormant on swimming pool decks, gym floors, and public shower areas, but the hyphae will also remain inside your shoes if they are worn after your feet are infected. You may stop wearing the sneakers to allow your feet to heal, but you can easily reinfect yourself if you wear the shoes again before they are washed. This can result in an endless cycle of infection, healing, and reinfection if you do not wash your sneakers and other shoes.

Washing Shoes

Washing shoes in your washing machine is one of the best ways to kill the athlete's foot fungi that sit inside of them. The water must be extremely hot to kill the fungi though. Temperatures as high as 140 degrees are required during both the wash and rinse cycle. Your hot water heater may not be set high enough to produce this type of heat, so make sure to increase the water temperature if you need to. Afterwards, throw the shoes into the wash with any worn socks or towels used to dry the feet. Use your normal detergent and consider placing an anti-fungal additive into the wash. Tea tree oil, vinegar, and borax are a few good suggestions. Dry the clothing in your dryer afterwards.

Keeping the Feet Covered

Embarrassment as well as discomfort may prompt you to cover your feet with socks and shoes throughout the day. Not only will you need to continually wash these items, but they will leave the fungi to thrive in the perfect conditions. The feet contain about 250,000 sweat glands that produce about one-half a pint of sweat every day. This provides the moisture for the fungi while the socks keep the sun off the feet and heated as well.

Exposing the Feet

To reduce the optimal conditions for the fungi to thrive, make sure to keep your feet uncovered as much as possible. Invest in some plastic or polyethylene sandals to wear at home. Make sure to lightly wipe them with a 50% solution of water and bleach every day to kill the fungi that has transferred to the shoes. You also should consider exposing your feet to the sun for 15 to 30 minutes each day and using baby powder to soak up any moisture.

Although it is wise to keep the feet uncovered, try not to walk barefoot in your own house or in a public space or you may transfer the fungus to another person or reinfect yourself. Designating a pair of flip-flops or sandals for showering and gym use may help you to avoid this problem. 

If you think you might have athlete's foot and you're having a hard time killing the fungus, then consider contacting a podiatrist at http://www.westmorelandfootdoctor.com.