The Fungus Is Among Us
Foot fungi prevention is imperative.
Podiatrist Ivar Roth, D.P.M., M.P.H., of Concierge Podiatry and Spa says "Using a blow-dryer is something that I came up with to combat fungus infections of the feet and nails. The rationale is simple. Fungi grow in moist environments; take away the water, and it helps to stop growth."
When you let your feet air-dry, it can take up to 30 minutes for the corners of your nails and the spaces between your toes to dry, says Dr. Roth—these are the places where fungus often begins to grow. Drying your feet thoroughly cuts drying time down to about a minute, so there's less of a chance that you will walk out of your bathroom or the gym locker room with a budding case of athlete’s foot.
According to Mayo Clinic "Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tightfitting shoes. Signs and symptoms of athlete's foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing. Athlete's foot is closely related to other fungal infections such as ringworm and jock itch. It can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications or prescription medications if the infection reoccurs."
You are at higher risk of athlete's foot if you:
- Are a man
- Frequently wear damp socks or tightfitting shoes
- Share mats, rugs, bed linens, clothes or shoes with someone who has a fungal infection
- Walk barefoot in public areas where the infection can spread, such as locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools, communal baths and showers
These tips can help you avoid athlete's foot or ease the symptoms if infection occurs:
- Keep your feet dry, especially between your toes. Go barefoot to let your feet air out as much as possible when you're home. Dry between your toes after a bath or shower.
- Change socks regularly. If your feet get very sweaty, change your socks twice a day.
- Wear light, well-ventilated shoes. Avoid shoes made of synthetic material, such as vinyl or rubber.
- Alternate pairs of shoes. Don't wear the same pair every day so that you give your shoes time to dry after each use.
- Protect your feet in public places. Wear waterproof sandals or shoes around public pools, showers and lockers rooms.
- Treat your feet. Use powder, preferably antifungal, on your feet daily.
- Don't share shoes. Sharing risks spreading a fungal infection.
BONUS HINT: Blow-drying your hair is also a healthier way to dry it than air-drying. Let it dry naturally for about 20 minutes or until it's a little more than half-way dry, then finish up with a cooler setting on your blow dryer -holding the dryer about six inches from your scalp.