How to Avoid Fungal Infections – Athlete’s Foot AND Toenail Fungus

You might not imagine that toenail fungus and athlete’s foot could be closely related conditions, but they are!

Not only are both fungal infections on the feet, but they tend to be caused by the same type of fungus, too. That means a case of athlete’s foot can spread into fungal toenails, and fungal toenails can lead to a case of athlete’s foot.

So if you’re taking any steps to reduce your chances of one type of fungal infection, you’re also helping to prevent the other. It’s a win-win situation, for sure!

Whether you want to prevent the itchy, stinging burn of athlete’s foot or the unsightly, crumbly mess of toenail fungus, all of the tips below can help improve your chances.

skin on a person's foot peeling form athlete's foot infection

Watch Your Feet Around Warm, Damp Areas

There are three things that fungi love:

  • Warmth
  • Wetness
  • Darkness

Anywhere that has an abundance of these factors plus a high amount of barefoot traffic is somewhere you should be taking protective measures. This includes gyms, locker rooms, public showers, and around public pools.

A pair of water shoes that cover along the top of the feet will provide the best protection in any situation. Shower shoes and simple flip-flops are not as ideal, as it can be easy for your feet to slip out of them, but they’re certainly better than nothing at all.

Keep Your Feet Dry

If anywhere can be warm, damp, and low-light, the inside of your own shoes would certainly qualify. Wearing footwear that “breathes” well and isn’t too constricting around your feet will help keep your feet from sweating and is a good idea whenever possible. 

For some of us, however, our feet are just naturally prone to sweating a lot. In these cases, it’s best to wear socks that wick moisture away from the feet. Merino wool and certain synthetic fibers such as nylon and lycra can do a good job at keeping your feet dry. Cotton socks, unfortunately, just don’t cut it.

And if you do find your feet sweating excessively through the day no matter what, bring an extra pair of socks along and change into them halfway through the day, if you are able. That will not only help keep fungal-friendly conditions from developing on your feet, but likely help you feel more comfortable, too.

If you want to give your shoes the best chances against harboring fungus, make sure to give a pair at least a full day to air out before putting them back on. That means cycling between shoes. If that’s not really feasible due to work or other circumstances (or you want the extra drying power), purchase a boot dryer. They can be quite effective at keeping the insides of your shoes arid.

Wash Your Hands After Touching Your Feet

This tip is especially crucial if you already have athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to build a good habit when you don’t.

Fungus is capable of traveling between your hands and other parts of your body – and infections are not confined just to your feet. That means any fungus you pick up by touching your feet can travel to other parts of your body and potentially cause trouble.

It should also go without saying that you should regularly wash your feet as well. This means more than just letting shower water run over them, too. Scrub well and between the toes, and dry them fully before putting on any socks or shoes.

woman applying medicine to her fungal toenail infection

Don’t Share Items

You should always avoid using the same socks and shoes as others, whether they’re in your own family or not. Not only can this help spread fungus around, but shoes wear against different feet in different ways. The shoes someone else uses might not support you well, which can lead to problems such as heel pain.

You also should not share toenail clippers with each other. Ensure your clippers are for your toes only, and periodically wash and dry them to keep them clean. You should also not use your toenail clippers as fingernail clippers, or vice versa. You should have separate tools for these jobs to help prevent fungus from spreading between your hands and feet.

Take Care of Any Fungal Problems Promptly

If you do notice the signs of athlete’s foot or fungal toenails on your feet, you have absolutely nothing to gain by waiting to see if they get worse. 

While athlete’s foot can often be treated at home, call us if your symptoms don’t improve within a day or two. And for fungal nails, contact us as soon as you think you have them. You’ll need help to get rid of them for good!

Fortunately, we do provide expert treatment for both conditions when you need them. That includes prescription-strength medication for athlete’s foot and laser treatment for fungal nails.

The less time you give fungus to grow, the less time you give it to spread – on yourself and to others.

Keep Your Skin and Nails Clear

Our experts are always happy to help you with any foot and ankle issues you may have, including those of the skin and nails.

Schedule an appointment at our Chandler office by calling (480) 963-9000 or by filling out our online contact form.