One in 10 people in North America have athlete’s foot fungus symptoms of itchy, red, cracking, peeling, flaking skin. According to some estimates, you’re 50% more likely to develop athlete’s foot again if you’ve had it once already. It’s recently been discovered that two genetic mutations make a person more susceptible to contracting the fungal skin infection. However, it’s still possible to limit the risk and prevent infection. Here are 10 preventative methods from the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology …
1. Use the medicine as recommended.
Lotrimin and Tinactin are pretty effective medications for killing off foot fungus. However, many people make the mistake of stopping their treatment early, as soon as athlete’s foot symptoms disappear. According to Cigna Health, “Even if your symptoms improve or stop shortly after you begin using antifungal medicine, it is important that you complete the full course of medicine. This increases the chance that athlete’s foot will not return.”
2. Keep your toes dry.
“Sweaty feet, not drying feet well after swimming or bathing, tight shoes and socks which offer no ventilation, and a warm climate present the perfect setting for the fungus that causes athlete’s foot to grow,” says Ronald Lepow DPM, president-elect of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Cleaning the feet and drying the webbing of your toes is probably the best thing you can do to prevent fungal growth.
3. Buy shoes that fit.
Foot fungus sitting on the skin does not typically cause infection. In order for athlete’s foot to develop, the fungus must be able to permeate the protective layer of skin and get into the body. One of the ways fungus gets in is through little cuts, cracks, blisters and abrasions caused by poor-fitting shoes.
4. Use anti-fungal cream regularly.
If you are at risk for a recurrent foot fungus infection, you can apply Lotrimin, Lamisil, or another type of anti-fungal cream on the bottom of your feet and nails twice a week to prevent early regrowth. You can also throw a little antifungal powder into your sock.
5. Don’t walk barefoot.
Fungus thrives on locker room floors, public bathing areas, hotel showers, and other moist, dark places. Buy a pair of flip-flops or shower shoes. Stand on a towel if you are really in a pinch. Whatever you do, don’t let those bare feet touch a surface that could be contaminated!
6. Choose your shoe type wisely.
It might be time to throw out those Crocs, vinyl high heels or waterproof Gore-tex runners that lack breathability. Leather shoes and high performance runners are usually much better options. Wear absorbent cotton or wool socks. Also, you’ll want to change your socks during the day if they feel damp. Alternating shoes every other day to allow proper drying time is recommended.
7. Cut your nails in the proper way.
A toenail that stabs into your skin is just asking for an infection to happen. Keep your toenails cropped, cutting straight across to avoid ingrown nails. If you’ve had fungal nails, toss your old clippers out and buy a new pair.
8. If you want to prevent athlete’s foot fungus symptoms, don’t share.
It’s common for multiple members of a household to get athlete’s foot together, since they are all sharing the same shower and public spaces. “Never share shoes, socks or towels,” warns Web MD.
9. Wash socks with bleach.
Basic detergent may not be enough to fully kill off the bacteria that was living on your socks. Bleach is considered a more effective agent for cleaning.
10. Take care of your shoes.
Throw away old shoes, boots, slippers and sneakers that you were wearing when you had athlete’s foot. Starting fresh, use the SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer at the end of each day to sanitize your footwear of up to 99.9% of the harmful fungus, bacteria and microbes that you’ve come into contact with during the day.