It often starts off as a simple itch, down in between your little toes. Then it spreads, from a small itch to cracked and inflamed skin that doesn’t seem to stop. It’s athlete’s foot, and it happens to a surprising number of people. Despite the name, athlete’s foot isn’t limited to those who play sports. Athlete’s foot is much like any other fungal infections, such as ringworm for example. A group of microscopic organisms known as dermatophytes grow much in the same way that mold does and can quickly spread across your foot, leaving it cracked, tender and worst of all, itching.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Your body is a host to a large number of microorganisms, which are normally kept in check by simply keeping your skin clean and dry. Unfortunately, dermatophytes are considerably more resilient than your typical microbial, which makes athlete’s foot a common irritation. Athlete’s foot absolutely loves to grow when you’re wearing thick, tight shoes that don’t allow your toes much wiggle room. Because your toes are squeezed together, it creates little moist and warm areas that are just perfect for the fungus to grow. Wet or damp socks coupled with warm shoes make for the perfect breeding place for the pesky dermatophytes, especially when you’re wearing shoes that are made from plastic or other synthetic materials that don’t allow for proper airflow.
So we know what makes it grow, but what actually causes the fungal in the first place? Athlete’s foot is super contagious and can be spread from contact with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, dirty floors, shoes and even other people with athlete’s foot. While it’s good to share, this is another reason to reconsider swapping shoes.
Prevention is the Key
There are several ways to help prevent the growth and spread of athlete’s foot. First and foremost, shoes that fit! Wearing shoes that are made from a breathable material, such as canvas or leather that also fit properly can help alleviate the optimal growth conditions for the fungus. Dry socks are also a key component to stopping the growth and spread of the dermatophytes. Change socks when you can, especially after exercise or physical activity, and make sure you wear clean, dry socks. Finally, while it might seem like a no-brainer, some people tend to take their foot health into their own hands by not wearing shower shoes in a public shower. Avoiding the long gruesome list of gross things that are potentially growing on the floor of a public shower, wearing shower shoes is a super effective way to avoid contact with any of it. When in doubt, break the flip-flops out.
It Gets Worse
As if the cracking, peeling, sometimes bleeding and always itchy feeling you get from athlete’s foot wasn’t bad enough, there can be some complications that make it worse. Because of its very nature, athlete’s foot can create an environment that’s perfect for other nasty bacteria to grow, creating a secondary infection. This secondary infection of bacteria can release a substance that breaks down the skin tissue in the foot, causing soggy eroded areas between the toes that are incredibly painful.
Some people are unfortunate enough to suffer from an allergic reaction after a particularly bad case of athlete’s foot. Here the proteins from the fungus can enter into the bloodstream and actually spread to other parts of the body, leaving an eruption of unsightly and painful blisters.
If prevention measures aren’t successful and you find yourself with a bad case of athlete’s foot, then it’s time to treat it. While there’s a never-ending line of products that are foisted upon you from the TV, some are better than other, as is the case with all things. Babor has a product that is particularly useful when combatting foot fungus. Babor Feetness Refreshing Foot Bath is a product that’s not only a great way to relax at the end of a long day, but goes a long way in helping prevent some of the conditions that cause athlete’s foot to grow to begin with. The skin of your feet is moisturized and nourished, promoting healthy skin growth and regeneration, while the mixture of aloe vera and eucalyptus come together to inhibit bacteria growth and even combat foot odor.