Preventing Fungal Foot Infections
Fungal foot infections are caused by microorganisms that is present all year round but are most common in summer because the heat and humidity create a favourable environment for their growth. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of one or both feet. Whilst almost everyone has bacteria and fungi on their skin, most of the time they’re harmless and don’t cause problems. However, at certain times fungi can grow and multiply, causing the skin on the feet to become infected.
Symptoms of fungal foot infections
Athlete’s foot causes an itchy rash to develop between the toes. The affected skin is often red, scaly, flaky and dry. In some people the bottom of the feet become inflamed and small blisters develop. The blisters can cause the skin to become cracked, which is very painful.
In some cases the fungus spreads to the sole and side of the foot and these also become red and scaled. In severe cases of fungal foot infections the skin is very cracked and the raw tissue beneath is exposed. This can allow secondary, bacterial infections to take hold.
What are fungi?
Fungi are plant-like organisms that don’t have leaves or flowers. They cannot survive on their own and need to live on other organisms. They feed on brokendown tissue and on the feet this means human tissue.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. Your feet provide a warm, dark and humid environment, ideal conditions for dermatophytes to live and grow. Dermatophytes do not just cause fungal infections on the feet – they can infect the skin, nails, scalp and hair.
How athlete’s foot spreads
Athlete’s foot is a very contagious infection. It can be spread through direct contact – involving skin-to-skin contact. This happens if someone with an infection touches your foot. It can also be spread through indirect contact, where the fungi are passed on to others through touching objects like towels, bed sheets and clothing.
Athlete’s foot spreads easily in public swimming pools, communal showers and changing rooms. These environments are warm and humid, which encourages the fungi to multiply.
There are a number of simple measures you can take to prevent athlete’s foot spreading, including washing your feet regularly, drying them thoroughly and not wearing tight-fitting shoes for long periods.
Preventing athlete’s foot
- Avoid walking barefoot on wet surfaces in pools and showers and don’t share shoes, clothing, or towels.
- If you are at the pool or beach, dry your feet as soon as possible.
- Dry your body well and pay special attention to the area between your toes but be gentle. If you are rough when you are drying you could cause small sctratches which can become infected with the fungus. You could use a hairdryer on your toes, but be careful not to burn them.
- If your feet sweat, use an anti-perspirant talc.
- Wear cotton socks – they absorb the sweat and keep your feet cool.
- Be careful about where you are getting a pedicure – make sure they are disinfecting the implements between clients.
- Inspect your feet regularly for signs of a fungal infection.
- Maintain good general health. A fungus is less likely to cause a problem in healthy people. Eat a good diet and exercise regularly.
- Cut out excessive sugar from your diet. Replace sugary snacks with fresh and dried fruit.
- Take special care if you have a chronic illness like diabetes or cancer. If you have either of these diseases you must visit your doctor if you suspect that you have a fungal foot infection.
Natural remedies for fungal infections
This is very effective in the fight against fungus. Bath your feet in salt baths. If you wish you can add some apple cider vinegar.
Make a paste with baking soda and a little bit of water. Put it on the area infected with fungus and let it dry. Then rinse and dry softly.
Garlic helps with many infections. Add it to your meals (best eaten raw) or take garlic capsules.
Add ginger to your meals or drink it as an infusion.