UV-rays shouldn’t be your only skin concern when frequenting the pool this summer. If you don’t take the necessary precautions, you might be walking away from a fun filled day in the sun with that itchy, burning disease known as athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection. There are three main types of athlete’s foot. First, there’s toe web infection, which causes the skin between your fourth and fifth toes to become scaly, peel and crack. Another kind of foot fungus is a moccasin-type infection. This fungal infection starts out with a general feeling of soreness and then causes the skin around the heel to become thick and crack. It can even cause your toenails to thicken, crumble, and fall out. Vesicular infection is the third type. If you contract this type of fungal infection, you’ll experience an outbreak of fluid-filled blisters on your foot.
A certain amount of fungi on your skin is normal, and it usually stays under control as long as you keep your skin clean and dry. An infection develops after you come into contact with an environment that has a thriving population of fungi. The most treacherous areas are warm moist places, like swimming pools, where your feet come into contact with the same ground that hundreds of other feet have tread upon. More breeding spots for fungi include shoes and towels.
Even if your feet come into contact with fungi, you won’t necessarily develop athlete’s foot. Some people are more susceptible than others. Those at higher risk for contracting the disease include men, those with a history of fungal infections, those with an impaired immune system due to diabetes, cancer, or HIV, those living in warm damp climates and older individuals.
While fungal infections run more rampant during the summertime, there are some steps you can take to prevent contraction. Keep your feet dry, especially the area between your toes, and give your feet some breathing time at home. Wear socks made out of natural, moisture wicking material like cotton or wool and change your socks often — two times a day or more if you have sweaty feet. When it comes to buying shoes, avoid tight shoes and shoes made with vinyl or rubber materials. Instead, buy lighter, more ventilated options. Also, never share your shoes. Remember to switch up your shoes every day so each pair has ample drying time before you take another stroll in them. Lastly, enjoy yourself at the pool safely this summer by wearing waterproof sandals.