Athlete’s foot for everyone

November 1, 2019

Back in high school, I was nowhere close to being an athlete or somebody who exercised much. Personally, I identified more with the term “couch potato.” Surprisingly, however, a lot of my friends were on track, did wrestling or were workout warriors. I distinctly remember being at the beach with my friends, and being horrified at what I saw. One of my friends is an avid soccer player, and I locked my gaze on his foot. I’ll spare you the details for now, but let’s just say, it was more than a little discolored, and I had nightmares for over a week after being blessed with this sight.

As it turns out, my soccer friend had a severe form of athlete’s foot, a fungal infection that typically thrives in moist warm environments. It is a common misconception that most athletes have to worry about getting it. I mean, that’s what the name of the infection is, right? Unfortunately, although many cases begin with a sweaty athlete, athlete’s foot is very contagious, and any contact can expose you to the infection. In fact, this infection is the primary reason as to why you should wear shower shoes, especially in dorm showers. Exposing your bare feet to the shower gives you a free one-way ticket to footfungusville. 

Fortunately, athlete’s foot is a very mild infection. Although it can cause mild discomfort and itchiness, it is hardly serious enough to cause heavy concern. A characteristic symptom of athlete’s foot is an itchy red rash that begins between the toes. The reason that the rash starts between the toes is because it is the warmest and wettest environment of your feet. The longer the infection is untreated, the farther it can spread. Other symptoms of athlete’s foot include blisters, ulcers and possibly dry skin that extends throughout the sole.

It’s important that you try not to itch the infected area, as this can spread the infection to other parts of your body. If you pick at the infection with your feet or hands, it can spread to those areas, especially if they are typically very sweaty. One of the more irritating places that the fungus can spread to your toenails, as this area is typically resistant to treatment. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is actually the same that causes jock itch, so the infection can spread to your groin and causing itchiness quite easily. To ensure that the fungus is contained and does not spread, try to treat the infection promptly.

Athlete’s foot is one of the infections that can be self-treated before visiting a doctor. To self-treat the infection, you can grab over-the-counter antifungal medications that can either come in a cream form or in a pill form. If the infection does not subside or get better after administering the medication, then it is recommended that you go see a doctor and get prescription medication and have the doctor take a closer look at it.

The best treatment for this infection, however, is to avoid getting it in the first place. This includes wearing the shower shoes that you brought to Brandeis, and not just discarding them because you’ve never worn shower shoes before (I was very tempted to do this). It is also very helpful if you keep your feet as dry as possible. This means changing your socks at least once a day, especially if you are a sweaty person, and to alternate pairs of shoes. This is going to seem obvious to some of you, but please be sure to wash your feet when you shower. Not only to protect your feet but to protect your roommate as well. Also, if you notice that someone has athlete’s foot, then it is wise to keep your feet to yourself and protect them at all costs. I’m just saying, if you need to whip out your katana to keep someone away, then you will definitely be seen as crazy, but hey, it’s effective right?

Although athlete’s foot is not as serious as other infections such as pneumonia, it is still an uncomfortable infection to have. From the itching to the aesthetics, you will not find yourself being able to sit still until the infection subsides. Being hygienic and taking care of your body not only ensures that you smell nice to the people around you but is also an effective method of avoiding infections such as this one.

(Note: These articles are good-faith attempts to be helpful to the Brandeis community and are by no means to be taken as universal. This article does not replace the advice of a medical professional. This article is not written on behalf of the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) and is not affiliated with BEMCo in any manner.)

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