Are you wondering why your toes are itchy or peeling? You may have athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection that often starts between your toes. Though you don’t have to be an athlete to get it, it commonly occurs when your feet get sweaty and are confined in tight-fitting shoes.
Common Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot
- Peeling, scaly or cracked skin between toes
- Itchy, scaly red rash on feet or toes
- Irritated skin or blisters on feet or toes
- Burning or stinging of feet or toes
- Dry skin on the bottom or side of your feet
How Contagious Is Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is mildly contagious and can spread through contact with an infected person. It can also spread from contact with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, shoes and floors, and from your foot to other parts of your body.
You may have an increased chance of getting athlete’s foot if you:
- Walk around barefoot where the infection can spread (locker rooms, sauna, swimming pools, communal showers and baths)
- Frequently wear enclosed footwear and sweat heavily
- Share mats, rugs, bed linens, clothes, or shoes with someone who has a fungal infection
- If you have an impaired immune system or diabetes and an open cut or sore on your foot
Athlete’s Foot Prevention
- Keep your feet clean and dry – Wash your feet daily with warm soapy water and dry them thoroughly. Wash your feet again if they get dirty or sweaty. Keep them clean and dry.
- Change your socks – Change your socks at least once a day. More often if your feet get really sweaty.
- Air out your feet – Take your shoes off as much as you can and let them get exposed to the air. Let your feet breathe.
- Alternate shoes – Use different shoes. This allows your shoes to dry out after each use.
- Don’t share shoes, socks or towels – Athlete’s foot is contagious so only wear your shoes and socks and use your own towel.
- Protect your feet in public places – Use waterproof shoes or sandals around public pools, locker rooms and showers.
How To Treat Athlete’s Foot
Getting rid of athlete’s foot can be difficult, so you should treat athlete’s foot as soon as you notice any symptoms. Podiatrist Elizabeth Auger recommends several home remedies and you can find over-the-counter products. However, if prevention and home remedies don’t do the trick you may need to contact a doctor.
When to see a doctor
- You have diabetes and the rash looks infected
- Your toenail is infected
- Signs of infection such as swelling and pus in the area, and fever
- The rash just won’t go away
- The rash has spread to your hands or groin
- The rash has turned in sores or blisters that leak fluid
A little prevention goes a long way. Follow the prevention tips above and give yourself the best chance of never having to hassle with itchy irritated feet.
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