Anyone who has experienced athlete’s foot knows the struggle.
It seems like as soon as you think it’s gone for good, that familiar itch suddenly appears in a small spot before spreading like wildfire.
It’s really not your fault. No matter how hard you try, fungus is extremely difficult to kick for good.
You’re smart. That’s why you want to know how to prevent athlete’s foot in the first place.
It’s definitely easier to keep athlete’s foot away rather than fending it off once you get it. Here’s how.
What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a type of fungus called tinea. Tinea can appear anywhere on your body. When it develops on your feet, it’s known as athlete’s foot.
When it appears elsewhere, it’s called ringworm or jock itch.
Suffering from athlete’s foot is not a sign that you’re unclean or living in squalor. Every person of every gender, color, age, and size can develop fungal infections at any time.
Several factors increase your risk for contracting athlete’s foot or ringworm such as:
- Walking barefoot – especially in public places like spas, showers, or bathrooms
- Putting on socks or clothing before your feet and body are completely dry
- Using public exercise equipment or yoga mats
- Sharing towels, sheets, clothing, linens, or yoga mats with an infected person
- Wearing wet shoes, socks, or clothing
- Having naturally sweaty feet
- Not changing your clothes immediately after physical activity
Different Types of Athlete’s Foot
Did you know there are several different types of athlete’s foot? Each one creates different symptoms and is identified based on the infection’s location.
- Interdigital infection: Burning, itching, peeling, or red skin in between your toes. This usually starts in between your fourth and fifth toes before progressing. It may be accompanied by a bacterial infection.
- Moccasin infection: Peeling and itchy skin on the soles of your feet. At first, your feet may feel sore. This infection can spread to toenails and up the sides of your feet.
- Vesicular infection: A fungal infection in the form of blisters. These can burst and trigger a bacterial infection as well.
- Ulcerative infection: Open sores anywhere on the feet. This type is rare but also very painful and dangerous.
It’s important to see a doctor if you believe you have a severe form of athlete’s foot. Once the infection progresses, it can trigger bacterial infections and lead to a lot of damage throughout the body.
Why Does Athlete’s Foot Happen?
Several risk factors above help create a perfect environment for athlete’s foot to develop. You don’t have to be an athlete to get it and it doesn’t mean you’re a dirty person.
Fungi craves warm, dark, and moist places. As you can imagine, sweaty feet are the perfect place for fungi to grow. It’s actually a miracle people don’t suffer from athlete’s foot constantly.
Many people find themselves contracting athlete’s foot or ringworm in the warm summer months.
Hey, we all sweat a lot sometimes – it happens.
For this reason, it’s important for you to know how to prevent athlete’s foot so you can avoid getting it in the first place.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is not always easy to identify. Many people may believe they have dry and itchy skin when they’re actually suffering from a minor form of athlete’s foot.
Here are some common symptoms to help you understand the difference.
- Peeling, red, or itchy skin in between the toes or on the soles of your feet
- Yellow, crumbling, or peeling toe nails
- Scaly skin on the feet that creeps up your ankle
- Small red blisters anywhere on your feet
Dry skin typically doesn’t burn or itch like athlete’s foot does. Remember that fungal infections are very contagious and can spread quickly.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot Before It Starts
If you’ve had athlete’s foot, you know it’s a pain to get rid of it completely. That’s why knowing how to prevent athlete’s foot in the first place is so important.
Here are a few techniques to make sure you never have to suffer through athlete’s foot or ring worm ever again.
Take Proper Precaution at All Times
The best thing you can do is be aware of yourself and your surroundings at all times. Yes, it sounds a bit drastic, but staying proactive is important. Here are some tips.
- If you must share an exercise mat, yoga mat, or exercise equipment, wipe it down with an antifungal and antibacterial wipe before using it.
- Don’t share clothing, towels, or linens with roommates – even if you think they’re healthy. Wash everything thoroughly if you can’t help loaning them a favorite t-shirt of yours.
- Keep an extra pair of water shoes or sandals in your car or for using public showers, spas, or bathrooms.
- Keep an extra pair of shoes and socks in your bag, locker, or car in case you step in a puddle at work or while you’re out and about.
- Don’t put on socks immediately after showering. Dry in between your toes thoroughly with a towel and let your feet air dry for a few minutes.
- Spray your shoes, yoga mat, and clothing with an alcohol and essential oil substance.
Natural Salves and Essential Oils
Several plant-based substances and essential oils contain powerful antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Here are some of the most potent antifungal essential oils. You can mix these into a salve with beeswax and olive oil or add a few drops to your favorite premade natural salve.