Why you don’t need to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot!
Let’s get one thing straight. You don’t need to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot!
Athlete’s foot is the colloquial term for tinea pedis, a fungal infection of the superficial layer of the skin. It manifests as scaling, itchy, red, inflamed conditions between your toes and/or the soles of your feet. Fungal spores thrive in warm, moist, humid environments and are highly contagious, spreading easily amongst family members and areas of the body if not treated correctly.
So maybe you love wearing your stylish new kicks without socks? Maybe your warm, trusty (manky?) moccasins are ready for a good wash? How often do you take a quick whiff of yesterday’s socks to save a load of washing (yes, we’ve all been there at some point!)? Maybe you frequent public spaces like swimming pools or shared facilities on the regular? All of these habits can manifest in athlete’s foot because they all have the potential to harbour or promote fungal growth.
Treatment of athlete’s foot can be frustrating if we don’t consider all sources of infection during the management process. Whilst a number of readily available topical medications exist to assist us in treating the skin conditions directly, it is not uncommon for us to see patients present with recurrent, persistent infections. Shoes and socks are a common source of reinfection, as well as towels and bedding.
So what are our hot tips?
- Separate infected socks, towels, and other exposed laundry from other items until you are ready to wash;
- Wash infected items separately from your likely non-infected loads in hot water (at least 60 degrees) using an antifungal washing detergent such as Canesten Hygiene Laundry Rinse. Dry items on the highest suggested temperature for that fabric in the dryer;
- Change your bath towel a couple of times a week, and your bedding weekly;
- Bleach shower floor once weekly;
- Alternate your footwear - let your favourite pair air out whilst you wear the other pair;
- Light Spray 50% white vinegar 50% water onto shoes and insoles and let air dry
Tegan Sipthorp is a podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic