Dermatologist’s Simple Tips for Athlete’s Foot Fungus Treatment

Cynthia Bailey, MD|February 9, 2010

Athlete’s Foot Fungus

Dry, itchy, scaly skin on your foot may indicate that you have a foot fungus infection, more commonly called athlete’s foot.  This highly contagious fungus infection is common and not limited to athletes.

Athlete’s Foot Fungus Infection may show up as:

  • excessive dry skin or thick skin on the soles of your feet
  • a painful crack between some of your toes
  • an itchy, scaly rash on part of your foot
  • small blisters on your foot

Foot fungus may involve both of your feet, just one foot or just a small part of your foot skin.  Sometimes people with the athlete’s foot fungus have  excessively smelly feet because of the fungal infection. Anyone can get foot fungus infections, but you’re at higher risk if you have:

  • excessively sweaty feet
  • wear hot enclosed shoes that make your feet sweat
  • share shoes with other people who may have athletes foot (example bowling shoes or ice skates)
  • share a shower with people who may have athletes foot (like at the gym, in a fire station, or even family members with athletes foot or nail fungus)

The athlete’s foot fungus lives on the outer layer of your skin and does not enter deeper into your body.  It is the same fungal germ that causes jock itch, most nail fungus infections and ‘ring worm’ infection (not a real worm) of the scalp or body.  It is highly contagious! My Treatment Recommendations for Athlete’s Foot Fungus Infection

  1. Apply over the counter antifungal cream with either terbinafine or clotrimazole twice a day for 2 months to treat an active infection.  Don’t stop before 2 months regardless of how fast the antifungal cream product claims it works.  That’s because these creams need to be applied for the full time that it takes for you to grow new skin on your feet, and that’s 2 months typically.
  2. Dust your shoes with Zeasorb AF athlete’s foot powder every time you wear them during the 2 month treatment phase and for 6 months after your feet are cured to prevent a recurrence.  Discard shoes that are really old, worn out and that may harbor lots of fungal organisms.
  3. Disinfect your home shower during your treatment period by spraying or washing the floor with a dilute bleach solution made of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.  Of course wear gloves and keep the bleach solution out of your eyes.

General Foot Care Recommendations to Help Prevent You From Getting A Foot Fungus Infection

  • Always wear thongs or sandals in public or communal showers like at the gym.
  • Wash your feet and between your toes with soap every day.  Use a wash cloth or exfoliating cloth like the Salux cloth to remove excessive dead skin that can harbor the fungus.  If you use a communal shower like a gym shower, do this right before you exit the shower.
  • Dry well between your toes after bathing using a towel.  If you are highly susceptible to foot fungus infection you should also blow dry between your toes because the athlete’s foot fungus loves to grow between damp toes.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed short so that you can keep this little space between your nail and your toe skin clean, dry and inhospitable for the fungus.
  • Always wear cotton socks in closed shoes to absorb sweat and that allow your feet to stay dry.
  • Wear shoes that ‘breath’, meaning don’t wear plastic/synthetic enclosed shoes made from nonporous material that prevents evaporation of sweat.
  • Dust your shoes with Zeasorb AF powder if you are excessively susceptible to athlete’s foot, if you have excessively sweaty feet or if you often wear hot enclosed shoes.

If you found this information helpful, you may also want to read some of my other posts: Dermatologist's 3 Simple Steps for Soft Sandal-Ready Feet by Spring Dermatologist's Tips for Dry, Flaky Skin on Your Face and Scalp-Tis the Season For Seborrheic Dermatitis Pandemic of Dry Hands; Hand Sanitizers, the Swine Flu and Tips to Save Your Hands Photo Attribution: aussiegall / CC BY 2.0

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