As the sun graces us with its warm embrace during the summer months, it’s time to break out the sandals and enjoy the outdoors. However, along with the joys of summer come increased risks of fungal infections, especially for our feet. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the more common infections you would prefer to avoid and provide essential tips to help you maintain healthy feet and steer clear of the discomfort that fungal infections can bring.
What are the most common fungal infections?
TINEA PEDIS (Athlete’s Foot)
Tinea, commonly referred to as “athlete’s foot” is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. This fungi is common in warmer, humid environments and spreads vastly in communal areas such as swimming pools, shared showers, and nail salons.
Common symptoms of tinea pedis:
- Foot odour
ONYCHOMYCOSIS (Fungal Nails)
Fungal nail infections are a common presentation, caused by the growth of fungi on your nail plate. Just like Tinea, this fungi thrives in warmer, humid climates and can be found in communal areas such as swimming pools, shared showers, and nail salons.
Common symptoms of fungal nails:
- Discoloured nails
- Discoloured build-up underneath the nails
- Thickened nails
- Brittle nails
- Friable nails
What can I do to avoid fungal infections in the warmer months?
Choose Breathable Footwear:
Opt for footwear made from breathable materials like leather or mesh. Proper ventilation reduces moisture, creating an inhospitable environment for fungi to thrive.
Keep Feet Clean and Dry:
Regularly wash your feet with mild soap and water, ensuring to clean between the toes. After washing, make sure your feet are completely dry, as fungi love damp environments. Pay extra attention to drying spaces between your toes to prevent moisture buildup.
Change Socks Frequently:
Swap out socks throughout the day, especially if you’ve been sweating. Moisture-wicking socks made from synthetic fibers or a blend of natural and synthetic materials can help keep your feet dry.
Use Antifungal Powders:
Apply antifungal foot powders to keep your feet dry and prevent fungal growth. Focus on areas prone to moisture, such as the spaces between your toes and the soles of your feet.
Avoid Walking Barefoot in Public Areas:
Public places like pools, gyms, and communal showers are breeding grounds for fungi. Protect your feet by wearing suitable footwear or water shoes to minimise direct contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.
Trim Your Toenails Properly:
Keep your toenails trimmed, cutting them straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. Shorter nails also reduce the likelihood of debris accumulating beneath them, creating a less favorable environment for fungal growth.
Rotate Your Shoes:
Give your shoes time to air out by rotating them, especially if you have a favorite pair. Allowing shoes to dry thoroughly between wears helps prevent the buildup of moisture and minimises the risk of fungal growth.
Make an appointment with your Podiatrist:
If you need assistance with general foot care, it is advisable to consult a qualified Podiatrist who utilises sterilised equipment. The use of sterilised tools and a hygienic environment can substantially decrease the likelihood of fungal infections.
Summer is a time for outdoor activities, and your feet play a crucial role in making this enjoyable for you. By incorporating these simple tips into your summer foot care routine, you can sidestep the discomfort of fungal infections and stride confidently through the warm, sunny days. So, lace up those shoes and step into summer with healthy, happy feet!
Our Podiatrists are available across Metropolitan Melbourne and the Bellarine. Contact our friendly Own Body team on (03) 9696 2639 if you have any enquiries regarding foot care or to book an appointment with one of our Mobile Podiatry Team.