As the name suggests, athlete’s foot is a common skin condition that most frequently affects athletes, as it is generally contracted in locations where one’s feet become damp such as locker rooms, gyms, and swimming pools. This fungal infection is extremely contagious, and it can be spread by simply walking with bare feet in the same area as someone who has athlete’s foot. Despite the prevalence of athlete’s foot, the fungi can only spread in a moist, warm environment, and there are many ways to treat it and prevent it from coming back in the future.
Signs of Athlete’s Foot
When it comes to athlete’s foot, there are many common signs to watch out for. You will likely experience a sensation of itching, burning, and stinging both on the soles of your feet and between your toes. You may experience blisters that itch, extremely dry skin on the sides or bottoms of your feet, and skin that cracks and peels on the soles of your feet or between your toes. Furthermore, athlete’s foot can cause your toenails to become discolored, thick, ragged, crumbly, or start to come off of your nail bed.
If you have the signs of athlete’s foot, you should seek treatment immediately. For the most part, you can fix athlete’s foot with a combination of better hygiene and anti-fungal medication that is available over the counter. You should always wear clean, dry socks and shoes along with washing your feet thoroughly and keeping them dry. You can use anti-fungal powder in your shoes and on your feet, and anti-fungal creams can be applied to the area. Treat athlete’s foot for at least 1-2 weeks to ensure that the infection does not return.
In addition to anti-fungal medications, there are other holistic home remedies that can treat athlete’s foot. An excellent home remedy is tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. This works as well as or better than pharmaceutical anti-fungal products. Apply a light coating to the affected area two or three times a day, and continue to apply it for two weeks after signs of the infection have disappeared to make sure the fungus is eradicated. Tea-tree oil will also clear up fungal infections of the toenails or fingernails, conditions that are usually difficult to cure, even with strong systemic anti-fungals. You'll find tea-tree oil products at health-food and herb stores. Be sure to select brands that are 100 percent tea-tree oil. If the infection persists after you have tried both home remedies and anti-fungal medication, you should see a doctor who can prescribe a stronger medication.
Prevention for the Future
For the future, preventing athlete’s foot comes down to good hygiene and caution in high-risk areas. It is best to wash your feet twice each day, ensuring that you clean between your toes and dry your feet fully. You must also keep your feet dry throughout the day; this can be done with talcum powder, walking barefoot when possible, taking shoes off right after exercise, and always wearing clean, dry socks. Wearing sandals or shoes made of canvas or leather will also help. When in high-risk spaces such as the swimming pool or the gym locker room, you should always wear foot coverage such as flip-flops.
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