Dream Cheeky will help you know How To Fix Athletes Foot 2022: Things To Know
There’s a difference between not-so-attractive, beat up feet and seriously gross feet, and when you’re dealing with athlete’s foot, you’ll usually experience the latter.
Athlete’s foot—also known as ringworm of the foot—is the most common form of tinea, a fungal infection of the nails, skin, hair, or body. “The fungi that cause athlete’s foot can be found anywhere, including locker rooms, around the home, even on nail clippers,” says Jeffrey Weinberg, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.
That means you really don’t have to be an athlete to catch athlete’s foot. In fact, sweaty footwear—including thermal socks, insulated boots, and stinky sneakers—is the more usual culprit, since the fungus thrives in warm, moist conditions.
The result? Redness, swelling, cracking, burning, scaling, intense itching between your toes, oozing or crusty blisters, and puckered skin. Plus, if the fungus makes its way over to your toenails, they can become thick or discolored.
The annoying part: it takes at least four weeks to make headway against a savage case. Worse, it will return unless you stamp out the conditions that caused it in the first place. But the good news is, there are several types of athlete’s foot treatments that can lead to fast results. Here are the go-to options doctors swear by—and some ways to keep the fungus from coming back.
How to treat athlete’s foot
There are several remedies when it comes to athlete’s foot treatments—but it’s not likely that you need to do all of them to find relief. You may have to try a couple before you find a cure that works best for your skin, though. Here are a few popular methods to consider.
Take it easy at first
Athlete’s foot can come on suddenly and be accompanied by oozing blisters and intermittent burning, says Frederick Hass, MD, a family medicine physician in San Rafael, California. When you’re going through this acute stage, baby your foot. Keep it uncovered and at constant rest. Although the inflammation itself is not dangerous, it can lead to a bacterial infection if you’re not careful.
Soothe the stores
Use compresses to cool the inflammation, ease the pain, lessen the itching, and dry the sores, says Dr. Hass. Dissolve one packet of Domeboro powder ($13, Amazon) or 2 tablespoons of Burow’s solution in 1 pint of cold water. Soak an untreated white cotton cloth in the liquid and apply three or four times daily for 15 to 20 minutes.
Use a salty solution
Soak your foot in a mixture of 2 teaspoons of salt per pint of warm water, says Suzanne M. Levine, DPM, a podiatric surgeon at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Do this for five to 10 minutes at a time, and repeat until the problem clears up. This athlete’s foot treatment method provides an unappealing atmosphere for the fungus and lessens excess perspiration. What’s more, it softens the affected skin so that antifungal medications can penetrate deeper and be more effective.
Medicate your foot
An over-the-counter antifungal medication may contain miconazole nitrate (found in Micatin products, for example), tolnaftate (Aftate or Tinactin), or fatty acids (Desenex). You might have to try a couple to find one that works best for you. Lightly apply the medication to the area involved and rub in gently. Continue two or three times a day for four weeks. Feet still red and flaky? Ask your doctor to prescribe a more potent cream or, if necessary, an oral med.
Avoid aluminum chloride
It used to be the popular treatment for athlete’s foot, but experts claim all aluminum chloride does is remove heat and moisture from the fungus’s habitat. It doesn’t kill the fungus, says Neal Kramer, DPM, a Pennsylvania-based podiatrist.
Go for tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic. In one study, 64 percent of people who applied a solution of 50 percent tea tree oil to athlete’s foot twice a day for four weeks saw the condition clear up, twice as many as in the control group. Quit using it if redness and scaling get worse after an application or two.
Rub in baking soda
For fungus on your feet, especially between the toes, apply a baking soda paste, suggests Dr. Levine. Add a little lukewarm water to 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Rub the paste on the fungus, then rinse and dry thoroughly. Finish the treatment by dusting on cornstarch or powder.
How to keep athlete’s foot away for good
Scrub away dead skin
When the acute phase of the attack has settled down, remove any dead skin, advises Dr. Hass. “It houses living fungi that can reinfect you. At bath time, work the entire foot lightly but vigorously with a bristle scrub brush. Pay extra attention to spaces between toes—use a small bottle brush or test-tube brush there.” If you scrub your feet in the bathtub, shower afterward to wash away any bits of skin that could attach themselves to other parts of the body and start another infection.
Keep applying medication
Once your infection has cleared, help guard against its return by continuing to use the antifungal medication that cured your problem, says Dr. Levine. This is especially prudent during warm weather. You should continue using the cream for 50 percent longer than it took to clear up the problem. If it took a month to knock out the fungus, for example, use the medication faithfully for an additional two weeks to get the last of it.
Choose proper shoes and socks
Avoid plastic shoes and footwear that has been treated to be waterproof, says Dr. Levine. They trap perspiration and create a warm, moist spot for the fungus to grow. Natural materials such as cotton and leather provide the best environment for feet, while rubber and even wool may induce sweating and hold moisture.
Change shoes often
Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row, says Dean S. Stern, DPM, a podiatrist at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago. It takes at least 24 hours for shoes to dry out thoroughly. If your feet sweat heavily, change shoes twice a day.
Air them out
Dr. Hass recommends giving your shoes a little time in the sun to air out. Remove the laces, open each shoe, and prop it in the sun. You should even leave sandals outdoors to dry between wearings. And wipe the undersides of their straps clean after every wearing to remove any fungi-carrying dead skin. The idea is to reduce even the slightest possibility of reinfection.
Keep them dry—and clean
To prevent fungus from gaining a toehold, try a 10 percent sulfur-based soap for its natural antifungal properties, says Sarina Elmariah, MD, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dry feet thoroughly (don’t forget the webbed area between toes!), and sprinkle them with antifungal powder if you’re prone to athlete’s foot. Another good idea, says Dr. Kramer, is to spray some disinfectant (such as Lysol) on a rag and use it to wipe the insides of your shoes every time you take them off. This kills any fungus spores.
Sock the infection
If your feet perspire heavily, says Dr. Hass, change your socks three or four times a day. And wear only clean cotton socks, not those made with synthetic yarns. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly during laundering, because detergent residue can aggravate your skin problem. To help kill fungus spores, says Dr. Kramer, wash your socks twice in hot water. In one study, when socks worn by people with athlete’s foot were washed at 140°F instead of 104°F, positive cultures for fungus dropped from 36 percent to 6 percent. Set your dryer on high heat as well.
Powder your toes
To further keep your feet dry, allow them to air for five to 10 minutes after a shower before putting on your socks and shoes. If you eliminate anything that’s hot, dark, and moist, you’re better off, says Dr. Kramer. To speed drying, hold a hair dryer about 6 inches from each foot, wiggle your toes, and dry between them. Then apply powder. To avoid a mess, place it in a plastic or paper bag, then put your foot into the bag and shake it well.
Watch your step
You can decrease your exposure to the fungus by wearing slippers or shower shoes in areas in which other people go barefoot, says Dr. Levine. This includes gyms, spas, health clubs, locker rooms, and even around swimming pools. If you’re prone to fungal infections, you can pick them up almost any place that is damp—so be prudent. At home, keep bathroom doors and windows open when you can. “Any way to increase ventilation will help keep bathrooms dry and discourage fungal growth,” says Sarina Elmariah, MD, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
When to visit the doctor for athlete’s foot
If the condition hasn’t improved and you’re in a lot of pain, it’s time to see your doctor, says Dr. Levine. Be wary of infection—you can’t assume that athlete’s foot will go away on its own, she adds. An unchecked fungal infection can lead to cracks in the skin and invite a nasty bacterial infection. Consult your physician if:
- Your foot is swollen and warm to the touch, especially if there are red streaks
- The inflammation proves incapacitating
- You have diabetes and develop athlete’s foot
- Pus appears in the blisters or the cracked skin