Athlete's foot is just as uncomfortable as it is common. It stems from odor-causing bacteria and fungus that infiltrate the skin of the feet. Foot fungus can come from being barefoot in public places like bathrooms or locker rooms, cross-contamination from someone in your household, or even wearing damp shoes. Luckily, the condition is easy to treat and even easier to prevent in the first place. Today, I'll discuss a few at-home treatments as well as some tips on managing and preventing athlete's foot in the first place.
1. Over The Counter Antifungal Foot Cream
You don't have to get a prescription for an expensive ointment to treat your foot fungus because over the counter (OTC) methods can give you the same results. Lotrimin Ultra Antifungal Cream is a popular, highly-rated athlete's foot treatment, and is available for less than $15 a tube on Amazon. In addition, Freeland Foot and Ankle Clinic carries Fortina Antifungal Cream. Our patients have seen great results with Fortina and I highly recommend it.
2. Vicks Vapo-Rub
Did you just do a double take? I can't really blame you. It may seem strange that a product designed to lessen cold and flu symptoms can do the same for foot fungus, but it's true! Vicks' ingredient list includes menthol and eucalyptus, both of which contain antifungal properties. Never use Vapo-Rub on broken skin and be sure to use a separate jar of the stuff. You don't want to use the same jar for both your fungal infection and your chest the next time you have a cold. I recommend marking the designated foot-fungus jar to avoid cross-contamination.
3. Keeping Your Shoes Clean and Dry
The fungus that causes athlete's foot loves dark, damp, warm places. Does that sound like the inside of your shoes after a long day? If it does, your shoes could be making the problem worse. Make sure to keep your shoes dry to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. For some, this is as easy as throwing your lightweight dress shoes into the dryer at the end of the day, but additional measures should be taken for those who wear heavy work boots or other shoes not compatible with your dryer.
- Replace your damaged shoes or boots. If you wear steel-toed work boots, odds are you spend a lot of time on your feet. That means you may need to replace your boots more often. If there are tears or holes in your footwear, moisture can get in and eventually lead to fungus or bacteria.
- Don't re-wear socks. I'll talk more about socks later. For now, it's important to know how crucial it is to wear a fresh pair of socks every day. Additionally, changing your socks when you get home can also help eliminate the risk or spread of foot fungus.
- Use UV technology. In this age of advanced technology, it's no surprise that a product like the Shoe Zap UV Shoe Sanitizer is available to consumers. By using UV light to kill bacteria, you can be sure that your shoes or boots are sanitized when you slip them on in the morning. The Shoe Zap can be purchased right in our office, too!
4. Wear the Best Socks for Athlete's Foot
Socks made from cotton, wool, or other natural materials are not the best choice if you are prone to or already suffering from athlete's foot. Check out this article about the best socks for athlete's foot to learn more. Essentially, you'll want to stick to synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, or acrylic. There are even copper-woven socks available to inhibit the growth of fungus if you're willing to spend a little extra money. The ions in the copper-woven thread helps to combat moisture, keeping feet clean and dry all day. As I mentioned above, it is essential that you change your socks every day. If you work out a lot, changing socks after you hit the gym can also help.
Kids and teens in sports tend to suffer from athlete's foot. This can be due to walking barefoot in locker rooms, cross-contamination, or a host of other reasons. If you have a young athlete with foot fungus, educating them on why they should keep a fresh pair of socks in their gym bag can help them avoid stinky, itchy, fungal feet in the future.
Bonus Tip: Knowing When To Seek Out Professional Help
If you've tried everything, Googled everything, and still have smelly, itchy, uncomfortable athlete's foot, it may be time to come in. Most patients who come in for treatment of their foot fungus only require one or two visits:
- At the first visit, we'll take a sample of the skin affected by the fungus and send it to a lab for testing. That way we can confirm the presence of fungus and formulate a better treatment plan to clear the issue up.
- Next, we'll call you with the results. If a fungus has been detected, we'll provide our recommendations and let you decide which treatment best fits your lifestyle.
It is extremely important to call a professional if you notice a fast, significant worsening of the condition. Additionally, you should always come in and have an exam if the infection has caused the skin to break, crack, or otherwise become increasingly painful. While foot fungus is usually not dangerous or life-threatening, you could end up with a serious infection if the fungus infiltrates any wounds or broken skin.
Get Rid of Your Athlete's Foot For Good!
The important thing to know about foot fungus is that you don't have to live with it. It's also nothing to be embarrassed about. The condition is among the most common that we treat at Freeland Foot and Ankle, and the sooner you come in the sooner we can solve the issue. Call us at 989-695-6788 or fill out our online contact form to learn more about the products and treatments we have available to get rid of your athlete's foot, or to make your appointment today!