Help! I Have Athlete's Foot!

Many men get athlete's foot in the locker room!
Many men get athlete's foot in the locker room!

Of all the medical conditions that can affect your feet, athlete's foot has got to be one of the most annoying (can you say ITCHY!!!). In my opinion, athlete's foot is right up there with toenail fungus when it comes to annoying and unsightly foot conditions. In fact, I know many people who dread the summer season due to the fact that they are not comfortable wearing flip-flops or sandals. They just don't want to put their feet "out there" for the world to see and I can't say that I blame them.

Yes, it's true; you don't have to be an athlete to get athlete's foot. All that needs to happen in order for you catch this annoying and itchy condition is for your feet to come in contact with a moist, warm environment that just so happens to have the right organism living in it. That is why so many people (especially men) contract athlete's foot in locker rooms, pool areas and bathrooms. Unfortunately, you can also get athlete's foot from your own footwear. If you wear old shoes (especially tennis shoes) without socks and you just so happen to sweat a lot…you will most likely, at one point or another, develop athlete's foot.


Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes
Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes

If you are an athlete and have foot problems...this book may come in handy!

 

Have You Ever Heard of Tinea?

Huh? What is tinea? Well my athletic friends, tinea is a fungal infection of the nails, skin hair and body. In fact, athlete's foot is the most common form of tinea. This funny fungus triggers all types of wonderful symptoms including redness, swelling, cracking, scaling, burning and let's not forget…INTENSE ITCHING! Once you develop athlete's foot, it will take at least one month to get rid of it…completely! It is very important that you do not stop treating your athlete's foot until it is COMPLETELY gone (there's that word again). If you don't, trust me, it will come back for a visit and you will be miserable.

A red, itchy foot....no fun!!!
A red, itchy foot....no fun!!!

Time to Go to the Doctor!

Though athlete's foot can be treated with over-the-counter medications and creams there are certain things you should be on the look-out for that may mean it is time to visit your family physician.

  • If you have a child (who has not yet reached puberty) and they develop athlete's foot, I highly recommend a trip to the doctor's office. It is VERY RARE for a young child to develop this condition; therefore, it is a good idea to seek medical attention.
  • If you have athlete's foot so badly that you can hardly move, much less walk, it is time to go to your doctor.
  • Pus is a bad, bad sign! If your cracked skin begins to leak pus or if you have blisters that are leaking pus…again, time to go to the doctor.
  • If you have treated your athlete's foot for at least one month and there is no sign of improvement or if you are afraid that your foot (or feet) has become infected…go to the doctor. In fact, as soon as you suspect that an infection has set in…go to the doctor.
  • If you have every symptom associated with athlete's foot including redness, swelling, cracking, blisters and pain…go to the doctor as you probably have an ACUTE case that needs immediate attention.

Other Helpful Hints!

As soon as you suspect that you have athlete's foot go directly to the drugstore and buy an over –the-counter medication in order to treat your symptoms and to bring some much needed relief. Look for antifungal medications that contain either miconazole nitrate (Micatin), tolnaftate (Aftate or Tinactin), or fatty acids (Desenex). Once you decide on a product, apply it to the affected area at least two to three times per day for one month. Between applications, soak your feet (ten minutes at a time) in a salty solution (two teaspoons of salt per pint of warm water). Foot fungus does not like salt water…so not only will soaking your feet be soothing, it will help clear up your infection as well. Be sure that your feet are completely clean and dry before applying any medication.

Avoid athlete's foot by drying out your shoes1
Avoid athlete's foot by drying out your shoes1

In order to keep athlete's foot away, make sure that your toenails are clean, neat and trimmed! Why? Well Mr. and Mrs. Fungus LOVE to live on and under toenails! To them, a toenail is prime real estate! Be sure to clean UNDER your toenails with a wooden tool . Why? Well, metal nail files, though sturdy, can scrape your toenails allowing bacteria and toenail fungus to collect...eventually causing an infection.

Air! Air! Air! I cannot stress enough the importance of airing out your shoes! If the shoes that you wear are old, consider buying a new pair as they could already be a hot-bed of fungus fun. If they are not old, put them outside in the sunshine and allow them to air out. Also, every week or so, wipe out the inside of your shoes. This will help to reduce the chances of getting another case of athlete's foot. Also…why we are on the topic of footwear, if you have a case of athlete's foot, be sure to change your socks two to three times PER DAY! I know this sounds like a lot…but trust me, if you don't it will take much longer to get rid of your itchy problem! If possible, only wear socks made of cotton and AVOID socks made of synthetic fibers.

Always wear fresh, clean socks and change them often!
Always wear fresh, clean socks and change them often!

Summary

Athlete's foot is a common and UNCOMFORTABLE condition. Remember, if you have athlete's foot and believe that an infection has set in…go to your doctor! If not, simply go to the drugstore and buy some over the counter anti-fungal medications and creams in order to relieve your symptoms. It is also important to be PRO-ACTIVE so that YOU DO NOT contract athlete's foot in the first place! Wear shower shoes when you are at the gym and pool, always wear fresh, clean socks, and keep your shoes dry and clean as well. Good Luck and here's to healthy feet!

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