While any skin condition can make you feel a little less than... erm, fresh, athlete's foot is one that can really put a damper on your self-confidence. Luckily, though tinea pedis, the scientific term for the condition, is far from fun, it's also something that can easily be treated at home with a little know-how. Woman's World turned to New York-based podiatrists Dr. Amnon Barnea, DPM, of Walk NYC Podiatry and Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, of City Podiatry, for more on how to treat athlete's foot and their favorite products for keeping feet looking and feeling their best.
What is Athlete's Foot?
Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection found on the skin of the feet that can cause odor, itching, peeling, and scaling. According to Dr. Barnea, there are two types of athlete's foot: inter-digital (which affects the areas between the toes) and moccasin (which affects the soles and sides of the foot).
A mildly contagious condition, "[athlete's foot] can spread to other people, body parts and most commonly to the toenails," Dr. Sutera shares.
One thing that Dr. Barnea is quick to note, however, is that athlete's foot is not a hygiene issue. "Having this type of infection is not an indication of the person's overall health or their personal hygiene. Most humans may be susceptible to it when their feet come in contact with the fungal pathogens, which thrive in hot and humid areas, like swimming pools, locker rooms, and shoes."
One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with athlete's foot is its reoccurrence. According to Dr. Barnea, repeat instances will likely come down to the type of treatment you choose to use.
There are two main types of antifungal medications: fungicidal, which kill off fungal pathogens, and fungistatic, which can only inhibit fungal growth. Therefore, it is recommended to use fungicidal medications to increase your chances of nixing the problem for good. "Failure to do so will likely lead to a recurrence of the symptoms," Barnea says.
How to Prevent Athlete's Foot
Thankfully, according to both Dr. Barnea and Dr. Sutera, athlete's foot is relatively easy to prevent. "Since athlete's foot is contracted by contact, the best way to significantly reduce the risk of this infection is to minimize direct contact with surfaces that are more likely to sustain the fungal elements," says Barnea.
That means wearing protective shoe gear, like slippers, flip flops, or sandals, anywhere where fungus is likely to be present: think the gym or community showers.
Both doctors also recommend changing your socks every day, implementing the use of foot powder ($20.91, Amazon), and alternating your shoes throughout the week to prevent any kind of fungal buildup.
For women who frequent nail salons, Dr. Sutera recommends bringing your own kit along with you. "Bring your own tools and only go to a nail salon that uses plastic liners in the tub and disposable nail and foot files," she says. "Files can not be sterilized and are porous."
Another pro-tip? "Make sure your feet are completely dry after bathing before putting on socks and shoes," says Sutera. "Dry ... in between toes and use medicated foot powder if you sweat."
While over-the-counter remedies can ease symptoms, it's important to visit your podiatrist if you're dealing with symptoms of athlete's foot. "Seek medical attention at your podiatrist's office if you have athlete's foot for proper diagnosis and treatment," Dr. Sutera advises. "There are some great over-the-counter products, but sometimes they are not strong enough and prescription treatments may be necessary."
Best Athlete's Foot Treatments
Have funky smelling, itching feet? We've got you covered. Dr. Barnea and Dr. Sutera sounded off on their favorite over-the-counter treatments to help you get your feet in tip-top shape today. Keep scrolling to shop the picks Woman's World has rounded up of the best athlete's foot treatments.
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