Foot Fungus, otherwise known as onychomycosis is a common fungal infection that affects the toes. It is generally spread by two methods: direct and indirect. Direct spread happens when the affected individual breaks or crumbles a pair of socks, or enters a public shower where the spores have been introduced by dirty water.
Indirect spread occurs when fungi are living on or in clothes or on items brought into the home, such as towels and clothing stored in closets. The first step in catching an athlete’s foot fungus is to check your shoes for signs of an infection.
Foot Fungus Symptoms to look for include
- Thickened toenails
- Darkening of the toenails
- Discolored toenails
A fungus-infected nail is unusual; a fingernail may also turn an unappealing yellow or brown. If a person develops an athlete’s foot, he or she should wear socks for a time to let the socks absorb the fungus.
Some people with athlete’s feet may not suffer any pain or discomfort in the feet. However, many people with this condition experience pain and sensitivity to hot and cold. This is why it is especially important to keep feet dry and clean, especially if the patient is going to be wearing socks and shoes for a long period of time.
Some people with athlete’s foot also feel a tickly feeling in their toes
If you suspect you have onychomycosis, you should try to isolate the infected area, so that you can treat the affected toenails and nail beds. In treating an athlete’s foot fungus, there are a few different ways of attacking it. One way is through natural remedies, including
- Foot fungus ointments
- Creams that contain tea tree oil
Other treatments include prescription drugs, such as toenail fungus cream with fluconazole (Ditropan). On top of using natural remedies, one of the most effective ways of curing athlete’s foot fungus involves taking an oral medication, which contains some of the same ingredients as the creams and ointments do.
It should be noted that although this is a very common condition, very few people actually know they have it. Only about 25% of people with athlete’s foot actually develop symptoms.
Because the fungus is generally in an inactive state in the feet, you won’t usually even know that you have the infection until you try to wear socks and shoes, and then find that the fungal growth has spread into other areas of your foot.
Risk factors of having an athlete’s foot fungus include having a weakened immune system
Having HIV or AIDS makes you much more vulnerable to this condition because AIDS takes a lot out of your immune system. Other risk factors include diabetes, overuse of antibiotics, and poor nutritional habits. Poor nutritional habits include
- Consuming fatty and oily foods
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Not getting enough fiber
- Not getting enough nutrients like vitamin D
Another risk factor is the wearing of tight-fitting shoes. Tight shoes make it easy for moisture to spread, which allows for the fungus to spread and become active.
Prevention is better than cure, as the saying goes
Although the fungus cannot actually be avoided, it can certainly be prevented by wearing the proper footwear and socks on your feet and protecting them from conditions that allow for their entry.
In communal areas such as public pools, locker rooms, showers, spas, and showers, always wear flip-flops or sandals to prevent getting the fungus on your feet from the wet floor.
If you do end up getting athlete’s foot, there are anti-fungal powders available that can be used topically, and oral medications that you can take orally once you get home.
If you are an athlete, make sure you change your socks often and always wear socks that are designed to absorb moisture and contain the feet from fungi and bacteria. Some types of socks are specifically designed to reduce the activity on the feet, which may help to limit the spread of an athlete’s foot.
In public pools and swimming pools, there are specially made anti-fungal socks that can be worn while wading and showering to protect your feet from the chlorine in the pool water.
If you are using public showers, you may want to consider not using gym shoes when showering. Even walking barefoot in these areas can spread the fungi that can lead to an athlete’s foot.
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