Fungi are present virtually everywhere in our environment, and they are particularly attracted to moist, dark, and warm places – such as the insides of your shoes! Once infected, foot fungus can lead to undesirable symptoms like itchy or cracked skin between the toes, as well as brittle and thickened toenails that look yellowish and curled inwards.
The bad news is that toenail fungus affects about 14 percent of the population, and it can be harder to treat if you are taking certain medications or have a compromised immune system. The good news is that there are practical measures you can take to keep the infection out. Here are 5 ways to prevent foot fungus.
Wearing shoes without socks tends to leave sweat lingering inside, which is a hospitable breeding ground for fungus. As such, it is important to slip on a good pair of socks before getting into your favorite shoes. The most effective fabrics at keeping away moisture include nylon, wool, and polypropylene. Make a habit of changing your socks often, especially if your feet are rather sweaty.
Avoid Wet Areas
Fungi thrive in moist or wet areas. While foot moisture is normal and usually harmless, it can lead to serious foot problems when left unattended to for too long. It can cause the skin tissues on the sole of your feet and between the toes to break down, resulting in irregular wear and callous formation. Constant foot moisture combined with this breakdown produces an ideal environment for the growth of foot fungus. As such, you should wash your feet every day – paying particular attention to the toes – and then dry them completely. Use a foot antiperspirant to reduce wetness on sweaty feet.
Use Foot Powder
Anti-fungal powder (known medically as Miconazole powder) is one of the best ways to fight foot fungus. It weakens the cell membrane of the fungus and prevents it from producing a substance known as ergosterol – which is a vital part of the fungus. As it gets “weaker,” the fungus finds it difficult to reproduce and gradually fades away. Foot powder is commonly used by people who are more susceptible to toenail fungus as a precautionary treatment. After washing and drying your feet with a sterilized towel, the formula will absorb any excess moisture.
Wear Comfortable Sneakers
Fungus tends to develop in areas that are under pressure. To prevent foot fungus, it is important to wear comfortable shoes with sufficient space for your feet to breath. At night time, allow the shoes that you have been wearing all day to air out. Avoid sharing shoes to minimize your chances of contracting the fungus. If your shoes get wet, let them dry out first before putting them on again. Remember to use shoes in public places such as the beach, gym, pool, and public showers/saunas. A good idea is to get a pair of shoes for every place – for instance, open shoes for the beach and sneakers for the gym.
Use Foot Creams
Practicing good hygiene on your feet can go a long way towards preventing foot fungus. One way to enhance proper hygiene is applying anti-fungal cream to your feet on a daily basis. This will help treat any type of infection that may be developing. Any type of over-the-counter (OTC) application will do, but you can still get a prescribed cream from your doctor. Sprays and powders and other similar topical solutions are not considered as effective, since they do not penetrate the affected area thoroughly enough. A good anti-fungal cream should contain ingredients specifically designed to cure foot fungus.
When it comes to fungal infections, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take good care of your feet and remember to keep them dry all the time. Use an antibacterial soap when washing your feet, as well as a fresh clean towel to dry them thoroughly.