Around 70% of Americans get athlete’s foot in their lifetimes. Also known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects the skin on your feet, particularly in between your toes.
A group of fungi called dermatophytes cause athlete’s foot. These fungi thrive in warm, moist environments such as locker rooms, public showers, and pools. When the fungi infect your skin, they cause an itchy, scaly rash.
Athlete's foot usually isn’t a serious health concern, but it can be extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing. As a leading podiatrist in New York City, Bryon Butts, DPM, has helped countless patients avoid and treat athlete’s foot at Performance Footcare PC.
Why you should avoid athlete’s foot
If you’ve never experienced the discomfort of athlete’s foot, here are just a few reasons why you should avoid it at all costs.
One of the most common symptoms of athlete's foot is intense itching, which can be particularly bothersome when you are trying to sleep or concentrate on work, school, or other activities. Burning or stinging sensations, dryness, and redness can accompany the itching and be quite uncomfortable.
Athlete's foot is highly contagious. It’s easy to spread from person to person through direct contact or through contact with contaminated surfaces. If you’re trying to avoid athlete’s foot, don’t share showers, towels, socks, or shoes with others. If you have athlete's foot, you should be extra cautious to avoid spreading the infection to other people.
It can be embarrassing
While athlete's foot is common, the red, dry, and itchy rashes are still embarrassing for many people. It’s not exactly pleasant to talk about, and if you have athlete's foot, you may feel self-conscious about taking off your shoes or exposing your feet in public.
It can be difficult to get rid of
Most of the time, athlete’s foot resolves within two weeks of at-home care. But unfortunately, it can be harder to get rid of for some people. Athlete's foot can be persistent and may require multiple rounds of treatment to completely eliminate the infection. Sometimes, the fungus may even return after treatment.
It can lead to other problems
In some cases, athlete's foot can progress to more serious problems such as cellulitis, a bacterial infection that affects the deeper layers of skin, or toenail fungus, which can cause the nails to become thick and yellow. If left untreated, these conditions can become very hard to treat effectively and may require more extensive medical intervention.
How to avoid getting athlete's foot
The symptoms of athlete’s foot are unpleasant. Fortunately, some simple precautions can help you avoid it.
Wear flip-flops in public showers, pools, and locker rooms. This will help to prevent direct contact with contaminated surfaces.
Keep your feet clean and dry. Wear shoes and socks that allow your feet to breathe, and avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row to allow them to dry out fully.
Use foot powder or antifungal spray. These products can help to keep your feet dry and prevent the growth of fungi.
Avoid sharing socks, shoes, and towels. If you have athlete's foot, be sure to wash your socks and towels in hot water to kill any remaining fungi.
What to do if you get athlete’s foot
If you get athlete’s foot, take a proactive approach to eliminate the infection and reduce your risk of it spreading to others. Try at-home treatments like over-the-counter antifungal medication, wash and dry your feet regularly, and wear clean socks every day.
If the infection doesn’t go away or your symptoms get worse, make an appointment with Dr. Butts and our team. We can diagnose your condition and recommend medical treatment. Depending on your needs, we may prescribe topical medication, oral medication, or chemical peels to rid your feet of the infection.
You can avoid athlete’s foot by taking some simple precautions — but if you get an itchy rash, we’re here to help. Schedule an appointment at Performance Footcare PC to get started.