Athlete's foot is a relatively common fungal infection, affecting between 15 and 25 percent of people at any given time. More properly called tinea pedis, it's a form of ringworm that causes crusty or oozing blisters, itchy red skin, and a stinging or burning pain. While it typically starts in the feet, it can spread if it isn't properly treated and affect other parts of the body as well. Taking a few simple steps can limit your risk of getting athlete's foot.
Don't Go Barefoot in Public Places
This infection can spread either by skin-to-skin contact or by skin-to-surface contact. This means that going barefoot in public places, such as pool decks, showers, locker rooms and even hotel rooms, can be a good place to pick up the fungus that causes the infection. Playing footsie with the bare feet of someone affected can also spread this infection.
Shoes Don't Always Prevent Athlete's Foot
Wearing shoes or sandals in locker rooms may be beneficial, but always wearing shoes doesn't eliminate the risk. Any warm, damp place can cause this fungus to spread and lead to athlete's foot. Tight, non-breathable shoes can cause this type of environment. Make sure to always wear breathable shoes, wear socks with non-sandal shoes and make sure that the socks and shoes you wear are always dry. Change out of wet socks and shoes right away. Indoors, stick to breathable socks and leave the shoes off when possible. Skip the plastic and rubber shoes, which don't allow your feet to breathe and make sweaty feet more likely.
Keep Them Clean
Your feet need to be washed with soap daily and then thoroughly dried, especially in between the toes. The soap will help eliminate the fungus and the symptoms it can cause before it has a chance to really settle in and spread. Simply washing your feet won't cure athlete's foot, however. This requires special products that eliminate the fungus involved. If you get sweaty a lot, it may be helpful to use antifungal or talcum powder on your feet before putting on your socks and shoes. Also, keep your toenails trimmed nice and short to limit anything getting trapped underneath them.
Just to be on the safe side, don't share socks, shoes or even towels or linens with other people, especially if they sometimes suffer from athlete's foot. The fungus can spread to these items and then to you, which nobody wants to happen. This doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in a household needs their own private linens. Freshly laundered towels and sheets are fine to use, just don't share these items without washing them properly in between uses.