Chances are, you may have the fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot on your feet at this very moment. The myth that needs to be dispelled is that athlete’s foot is easily contagious from person to person – with the itchy, burning condition arising the moment someone comes into contact with a contaminated foot bath, shower room floor, yoga mat, or bed sheet. In this blog we’re going to take look at how the foot fungus really spreads, and what we should really be doing to prevent it.
Is Athlete’s Foot Contagious?
We like to think that a foreign invader is responsible for something like athlete’s foot and that we can simply avoid it. But the truth is, athlete’s foot is often our own undoing. Athlete’s foot is not actually as contagious as it’s made out to be, and in many cases, an infected family member can use showers, bathrooms, and more – and never infect others living in the same household. In fact, many instances of athlete’s foot have nothing to do with showers, restrooms, pools or the like.
Instead, athlete’s foot is often spread by:
- Failing to wash and dry feet thoroughly after athletic activity, standing for long periods in wet shoes, or walking in water
- Wearing athletic shoes or other footwear that have become too sweaty and worn (which becomes the ideal breeding ground for fungi)
- Not rotating shoes between wearings, so inadvertently wearing wet shoes that can develop mold
- Sharing shoes and socks with others
- Changing shoes, but not socks
- Using the same shoes for athletic and casual purposes
- Wearing socks and shoes made of synthetic fibers or other materials that don’t breathe
- Trying on shoes at the store without socks or stockings
Have you noticed a trend? In a nutshell, moisture is our worst enemy when it comes to athlete’s foot fungus infections. Even if your shoes don’t feel wet to the touch, they most likely are — especially if you have worn them all day at work or for a jog. Furthermore, flare-ups of athlete’s foot are also believed to occur when the body’s immune system is lowered for whatever reason, so it’s important that you focus on leading a healthy lifestyle in general.
New York University scientist Dr. Rudolf L. Baer, tested over 100 doctors, nurses, and lab technicians who did not have a history of athlete’s foot. For 30 minutes a week, the subjects bathed a foot in a pan of water containing 100,000 times the amount of athlete’s foot fungus than they could possibly pick up from a locker room. After six weeks, researchers found:
- Half of the feet harbored a certain amount of athlete’s foot fungus on the surface, but not enough to cause a full scale infection
- Not a single infection was recorded out of 100 feet subjected to the fungus
Some Tips For Preventing Athlete’s Foot:
- Wear breathable shoes and socks
- Regularly use a dry, mild foot powder that contains fatty acid (like aloe or olive oil)
- Put lamb’s wool between the toes if you often feel wetness there
- Always dry the feet before putting on socks
- Use a gentle non-alkaline soap when washing your feet
- Rinse your feet in a water that has a few drops of tea tree oil added to it – tee tree oil is a wonderful natural anti-fungal treatment
- Change socks when changing shoes
- Alternate shoes, so that you can let them dry out between wears