Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that occurs when the tinea fungus develops and grows on the feet. Despite the name, it isn’t reserved for Olympic Gold Medalists and athlete’s foot can affect anyone through direct person to person contact, or by touching infected surfaces. However, the fungus does thrive in warm and moist conditions such as showers, changing room floors and around swimming pools so if you visit the gym or swimming baths often you may be familiar with the infection.
How to spot an athlete’s foot infection
The most common type of Athlete’s foot causes cracked or scaly, itchy skin and usually affects in between the toes of both your feet. It can also affect your sole or instep, too as well as other parts of the foot. If infected, you may also suffer from minor swelling, blisters or sore ulcers on the feet. It’s important to react quickly to athlete’s foot to avoid the infection developing if it isn’t treated quickly.
How to treat athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot requires treatment, as the longer you leave it the worse it is likely to get. Anti-fungal medicines are available from pharmacies but there are other forms of treatment too, such as sprays, powders, and of course creams. For more information on the best anti-fungal cream for athlete’s foot, take a look at my comprehensive guide to discover the most effective and available treatments. Please note, that not all treatments are suitable for all and what may be effective for one person may not be another so it is important to always check the packet or seek a pharmacist’s advice.
When it comes to athlete’s foot creams or other treatments, they may not be effective straightaway and can usually take a few weeks to work.
How to apply an athlete’s foot cream
- Clean and dry the affected area before thoroughly washing your hands
- Remove the lid of the cream and apply a small amount to your finger (you may even want to wear sterile gloves or use an applicator
- Apply a thin layer to the infected and surrounding area
- Gently rub the cream in, if applying between the toes you may want to cover the area with a gauze strip, especially whilst sleeping.
- Replace the lid and thoroughly wash your hands again.
- Try to allow the cream to dry first before putting your socks on to avoid creating a warm and moist environment where the fungus can dry.
The above process of applying athlete’s foot cream must be repeated over a couple of weeks and the skin will also need around a month to heal once the infection has been cleared. If you fail to notice any improvement then you should seek your GP’s advice and perhaps try a different treatment.
The process of application and the length of treatment may vary slightly depending on which cream you use. Please read the instructions for any individual product as well as the above advice.
How to avoid returning athlete’s foot
Although athlete’s foot can be treated, it can also come back. So, as well as using creams for treatment, here are some tips on how to avoid the infection returning.
- The most important thing to do when avoiding any athlete’s foot or any fungal infection is to keep your feet clean and dry.
- After showering, bathing or swimming ensure that you are thoroughly drying your feet. This is especially important in between your toes and it is best to dab them dry rather than rub them as you may irritate your skin if it is recovering.
- When at home, take your shoes off. Your feet need to breathe as the infection thrives in sweaty, warm conditions. However, when in public places such as changing rooms or public showers you should always wear sandals or other footwear in order to avoid catching or spreading the infection.
- Ensure you are wearing clean socks every day. Cotton socks are usually best as the material is quite light and airy as opposed to woolen socks. Shoes that allow your feet to breathe a little are recommended too. You should also avoid sharing socks or shoes with others.
- It is important you do not itch or scratch the affected areas of skin as you may spread the infection. You should also make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after touching your feet.
- If you suffer from athlete’s feet you should use a towel specifically for the affected area to avoid spreading the infection. You should also avoid sharing towels with others.
Applying Athlete’s foot cream should contribute to clearing the infection quickly and stop the fungi from spreading but it is also recommended that you continue with the above preventative measures even if the dry or broken skin seems to have cleared the fungus infection may still be present. If not, you may need longer for your feet to recover or potentially spread the infection.