In cold weather months, many of us are spending time in indoor swimming pools and locker rooms, which are breeding grounds for communal foot diseases. Athlete’s foot is a common condition, especially for those who are frequently walking around barefoot in heavily trafficked areas.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that causes red, dry, flaking skin, sometimes accompanied by pain or itching. The condition usually occurs between the toes or on the soles or sides of the feet. In its acute stage, the infected foot exhibits blisters that itch or “weep”. Athlete’s Foot can spread to the toenails, causing chronic fungal infections. Often when a patient thinks the feet are only dry and cracking, Athlete’s Foot is responsible for the problem.
Fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot are often contracted in showers, gyms, dressing rooms, swimming pool lockers, or other warm, damp areas where fungus can thrive. The name of the condition comes from the fact that athletes spend the most time in these environments and therefore are at a higher risk of fungal infection.
Once fungal spores are present on the feet, they can enter fissures or sores and remain there to spread, unless the feet are carefully washed and thoroughly dried after exposure. Athlete’s Foot can spread from the toes to the toenails. If the patient touches or scratches the infection and then touches other parts of the body, the fungus can spread to fingernails or other parts of the body, including the groin or underarms. Like any foot condition, Athlete’s Foot is of special concern to people with diabetes and compromised immune systems who are more susceptible to developing infections that can lead to serious medical problems.
Vigilant foot hygiene can prevent Athlete’s Foot. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water followed by thorough drying, especially between the toes, is important. Wearing dry, airy shoes and socks, not borrowing footwear from others, avoiding tight hosiery and using foot powder all help to keep the feet dry and infection-free. When using public showers or pool areas it is a good idea to wear protective shoes.
Traditional treatment plans include prescription antifungal medications, either topical or oral, and continued attention to keeping the feet clean and dry. However, there is a natural remedy that can also be just as, if not more, effective.
- Expose your feet to fresh air and sunlight, wear sandals if possible.
- Tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, is highly effective at eliminating athlete’s foot. Apply a light coating to the affected area 2-3 times a day, and continue to apply it for 2 weeks after signs of the infection have disappeared to make sure the fungus is completely eradicated. Be sure to select brands that are 100 percent tea-tree oil.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only. The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional. You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.