How to Avoid & Treat Common Foot and Nail Conditions
Athlete’s Foot is very common among athletes (hence its name), but even those who aren’t as active can also suffer from this. Also known as Tinea Pedis, it can be caused by different types of fungus, many of which thrive damp and poorly ventilated environments (like sweaty socks and enclosed shoes).
If you’ve had Athlete’s Foot before, then you may already be familiar with the symptoms: red rashes, scaly and peeling skin, and itchy blisters in between your toes. Also, if you’ve had this before, then you know how difficult and stubborn this problem can be to remove.
Fortunately, most cases can be treated effectively with the right medication and treatment strategies. But prevention is always better than a cure, so you’re better off avoiding it with the following pointers:
- Wash your feet properly every day.
- Avoid walking barefoot in areas where different people walk barefoot (ex. gym locker rooms, common shower areas).
- Keep your feet clean and dry (ex. replace sweaty socks, use anti-fungal foot powder).
- Avoid using the same pair of shoes on consecutive days.
- Use well-ventilated footwear.
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Also known as Verruca Pedis, Plantar Warts are small growths on the skin caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Warts can also cause some irritation and pain. Because Plantar Warts can transmit via skin to skin contact or even indirect contact (e.g. sharing infected shoes), it can spread easily between people or even different parts of your body.
Severe cases may require more aggressive treatments to remove. Common treatments options include Chemical Cautery, Cryotherapy, and Multiple Punctate Therapy.
To avoid getting plantar warts, you should:
- Avoid walking barefoot in common areas like gym locker rooms, showers, and public pools.
- Keep your feet dry and avoid letting them soak in sweat and moisture.
- Avoid sharing shoes and footwear with other people.
- Wash your feet properly if you’ve walked through areas where plantar warts can easily spread (e.g. gyms, swimming pools)
- Avoid touching someone else’s feet.
- Avoid touching infected areas.
Fungal Nail Infections
Fungal nail infections – also known as onychomycosis or Tinea Unguium occurs when fungus grows on the toenail. This often happens when the nail experiences some form of trauma that allows fungi enter the nail plate it.
Many cases of fungal nail infections are caused by the same fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot, making athletes and active people more prone to this condition.
Symptoms include nail discolouration, nail brittleness, nail thickening, debris build-up under the nail, and the crumbling of affected nail parts. Treatments for fungal nail infections will largely depend on its severity, with anti-fungal medication and topical solutions often the first line of treatment.
More severe cases can be treated with PACT laser therapy, which uses a sensitising drug and visible light to kill the fungus and bacteria infecting your nail.
To avoid fungal nail infections:
- Keep your toenails properly This will help minimise your risk of nail injuries and reduce nail debris that could harbour bacteria and fungus.
- Wear shoes and footwear that fit properly. This will help prevent nail trauma.
- Wear breathable footwear.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas like gyms, locker rooms, showers.
- Avoid sharing nail clippers, nail files, and other nail accessories.
Get Treatment Early
When it comes to fungal and bacterial infections, early treatment is critical. Although most foot fungal issues may not be painful or debilitating, they can become severe enough to keep you away from your training.
Remember: the more severe your fungal issue, the more time it will likely need to resolve. Avoid getting sidelined by foot fungus by always treating the problem early before it gets worse. Or better yet, avoid these issues altogether by practicing proper foot hygiene and taking care of your feet.