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Not for athletes only: Keeping the family feet fungus free

Although the locker room, with its warm, moist environment, is a perfect breeding ground for the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, the condition can take hold even in your own home.

What is it?

Athlete’s foot is caused by trichophyton, the same fungus responsible for jock itch. The fungus sets up camp in poorly ventilated shoes and sweaty socks and then attacks. Commonly affected are the soles and the area between the toes.

You or a family member might have athlete’s foot if you notice these symptoms:

  • dry, cracked skin
  • itchiness or burning
  • blistering
  • soft grayish or reddish scales
  • a dry rash

Athlete’s foot should be treated immediately with an over-the-counter antifungal cream, lotion or spray powder. Choose a product that does not contain cornstarch, which can encourage fungal growth. Treatment may be necessary for several weeks to prevent recurrence. See your healthcare provider if symptoms persist.

Don’t catch it if you can

Keep your feet dry and clean. Wash your feet with soap and water daily; dry them thoroughly—especially between the toes.

Change shoes and socks daily. And toss socks in the hamper after a workout. Note that cotton socks wick moisture away from feet better than synthetic ones.

Choose shoes that allow your feet to breathe. When you can, wear sandals or go barefoot. However, always wear rubber sandals in a public shower room or locker room.

If you’re susceptible to athlete’s foot, it may help to apply medication to your feet once or twice a week, even when symptoms aren’t present, to prevent a recurrence.