Fungal problems can develop on the feet in areas such as between the toes, on the sole of the foot, and on the toenails. Since the feet are frequently exposed to moisture due to sweating and wet weather conditions, fungal infections are common. Fungi flourish in warm, dark, and moist environments, making the feet the perfect host for fungal problems like athlete’s foot and fungal nails. Diseases such as diabetes that weaken the immune system can also leave people prone to foot fungal problems. Fungal problems can be chronic.
Some foot fungal infections are very contagious and spread easily from person-to-person contact and contaminated surfaces; they can also migrate to other parts of the body. There are several over-the-counter medicated foot powders, creams, and sprays available to treat athlete’s foot; these should be used at the recommendation of a healthcare professional or doctor, as different fungi require different treatments. A doctor can prescribe topical or oral medications to treat severe cases.
Fungal infections can be prevented by the following suggestions:
- Wash and dry feet thoroughly, taking extra care to dry between the toes
- Use powder to keep the feet dry
- Keep socks and footwear clean and dry; socks can be changed several times daily
- Wear footwear made of breathable materials that allow air to circulate around the feet; constricting footwear, stockings, and socks can trap moisture and perspiration on the feet
- Never share socks or footwear
- Do not walk barefoot in public areas such as showers, pools, and locker rooms; instead, wear plastic flip-flops, slides, or shower shoes
- Sanitize nail clippers, nail files, and pedicure instruments; never share them with others
- Avoid injuring the toenails and nail beds, which can eventually develop into an infection