07 Dec 2018, 05:24
Summer is here, which means higher temperatures and humidity, and more people using public pools and the gym.
Unfortunately this also means that it’s easier to catch a nasty foot fungus, which isn’t just unpleasant, but makes it embarrassing to display your feet (especially when wearing sandals).
Tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, is commonly contracted in public showers and swimming pools. It can cause itching and cracking of the skin between the toes.
Toenail fungus is another unsightly condition, causing a thickened, discoloured nailbed. Toenail fungus is very common and can be difficult to get rid of.
Luckily there are some simple precautions to avoid fungal infections of the foot.
1. Keep your feet clean and dry
Even though it’s summer, many of us wear closed shoes and socks to work or during exercise. Combat sweatiness by using a foot powder and wearing socks made from pure cotton. Synthetic materials in socks often increase sweat, creating the perfect environment for fungal infections. Change your socks every day. Pay attention to your feet when you bath or shower, and dry in between your toes.
2. Avoid walking barefoot at public showers or pools
When you are showering at the gym, a public camp site with shared bathroom facilities, or your nearest public pool, invest in a pair of slip-proof flip-flops. Damp environments are the biggest culprits when it comes to spreading fungal infections.
3. Don’t cover an existing infection with nail polish
If you already have a fungal infection of the toenails and want to show off that new pair of summer sandals, it might seem like an easy solution to simply slather on a thick layer of nail polish. But, covering the infection is the last thing you should be doing. Applying nail polish over the fungus cuts off oxygen and seals in the infection.
Covering up and ignoring the infection will only lead to bigger problems later on, says Dr Tammy Gephart of the Podiatry Group of Georgia in the USA. And while it’s extremely rare, the fungus may continue living on the bristles of your nail polish, contaminating the product, causing reinfection or spreading the infection if you share your nail polish with someone else.
4. Don’t share nail clippers, nail files, socks or shoes
It goes without saying that fungus can live on the surfaces of these items and cause infection when coming into contact with the skin.
5. When you have a foot condition, make sure that it is indeed a fungus
When home remedies do not work for an existing condition, it’s important to consult a dermatologist or doctor to establish whether you have a fungal infection and not a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. If you continue using the wrong treatment, the problem will persist.
6. Only go to trusted beauty salons for pedicures
Warmer weather and freshly pedicured toes go hand in hand and you might be tempted by bargain treatments. But do your homework and make sure that your therapist is licensed and uses the correct sanitation procedure for her tools. Foot baths must be cleaned daily as dirt can build up.
7. Let your shoes air out properly
Don’t throw your pair of trainers in the back of your cupboard after your workout. Let your shoes air out properly to avoid bacteria from growing.
Image credit: iStock