How to Avoid Athlete’s Foot and Staph Infections

How to Avoid Athlete’s Foot and Staph Infections

If you’ve headed back to the gym or locker room after lockdown, you may be thrilled that you can work out in public again or participate in team sports. However, that increased freedom comes with risks. Just as pathogens can be spread by the air we breathe and the equipment we touch, they can also be spread on floors, showers, and saunas. 

The most common infections transmitted and caught by athletes and weekend warriors are athlete’s foot and staph infections. Athlete’s foot is caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungus. Staph infections are caused by the bacterium staphylococcus aureus. Some staph infections are resistant to antibiotics, which is why it’s paramount to prevent them.

At Apple Podiatry Group — with offices in Arlington, Flower Mound, and Irving, Texas— our podiatrists Jarna Rathod-Bhatt, DPM, and Rahul Bhatt, DPM, want you to stay fit and strong with regular exercise and team play. But they also want to protect you and your family from infections that could compromise your foot health and your overall health, too.

To keep your feet — and your children’s feet — safe from infections with fungi and bacteria, you just need to adopt a few new habits. Also, stay alert to changes in the way your feet look and feel, so you can get a diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications.

Don’t go barefooted

Locker rooms, bathrooms, public pools, and saunas are perfect breeding grounds for pathogens. The warm, moist environments help bacteria and fungi thrive. High “foot” traffic from gym patrons and athletes also raises the risk that their untreated infections are passed to floors and other surfaces, where you can easily pick them up.

Once you take off your athletic shoes, make sure that you and your children change into flip-flops or shower sandals to keep your feet off the gym and other public floors. Keep protective footwear on in all public areas, including:

If you have to take off your sandals to change your clothes, be sure to step on a clean towel, not the locker room floor. 

Clean up after working out

When you take a shower (with flip-flops or shower shoes, please!), you help wash off the germs before they have a chance to burrow into microscopic fissures or cracks in your feet. If you or your kids don’t have access to a shower directly after a workout or play, be sure to take one as soon as you get home.

Also clean your athletic gear. Wash uniforms, socks, and towels in hot water right away. Air your athletic shoes so that germs don’t get a chance to fester.

Keep your feet clean, dry, and safe

Washing up is important, but drying afterward is, too. Fungi and bacteria thrive in moist environments, so don’t give them a chance. 

Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly after your shower, including between your toes. Change into clean, dry socks. 

If you sweat a lot throughout the day, consider changing your socks frequently, too. Use medicated powders on your feet, between your toes, and in your shoes to keep athlete’s foot at bay.

Also, if you notice any cuts, cracks or abrasions on your feet, be sure to cover them with bandages. Bacteria and fungi can more easily infect your feet if the skin is compromised. Don’t try to treat your own corns and calluses by digging them out either; a podiatrist can remove them safely, without increasing your risk for foot infections.

Don’t share gear or towels

To control the spread of infections, avoid using anybody else’s towel, socks, or athletic shoes. Don’t even share bar soap. 

If you use public locker room equipment, including hair dryers, consider carrying alcohol wipes to clean them before use. Also be sure to wash your hands frequently and clean any gym equipment you use, too. You might pick up staph or fungi on your hands and transfer them to your feet.

Get symptoms evaluated quickly

Don’t delay a diagnosis if you notice your feet are cracked, itchy, or red and inflamed. Although athlete’s foot in itself may not be dangerous, it raises your risk for a staph infection. Once staph enters your bloodstream through cracks or wounds in your feet, it can spread throughout your body. Contact us if you notice changes in your feet, such as:

Preserve your health by taking care of your feet. If you think you have athlete’s foot, a staph infection, or another podiatry issue, contact us by phone or online form at the office nearest you for an evaluation and treatment today.

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