Unfortunately, it’s quite easy to get foot fungus. Are you concerned you may have a fungal infection? Read on to learn five things you should know about this common foot condition.
1. What causes foot fungus?
There are a number of fungal organisms which can cause fungal infections, but the most common is called dermatophyte. This microscopic fungus is normally found on the body alongside other fungi and bacteria. When the toenails and skin are intact, the feet are adequately protected from infection. However, when the skin and toenails are damaged or broken (creating an opening), the fungus can enter. The body’s warm, moist environment is ideal for growth and the fungi will naturally overpopulate—resulting in a fungal infection.
The most obvious way to get a break in the skin is from an injury. And indeed an injury can be the catalyst that leads to a fungal infection. But most fungal entry points are less obvious, even undetectable. Moist, wet skin macerates, or softens and breaks down, making it vulnerable to the normally harmless fungus already present on the skin’s surface. For this reason, the feet and toenails are more prone to fungal infections than fingernails because the feet are often confined to shoes where they are exposed for long periods to moisture from perspiration. However, moisture doesn’t have to be present for a fungal infection to start. Extremely dry skin can develop small micro-tears where fungus can inhabit the skin and multiply.
Fungal infections are more common in older adults because the skin and nails are typically dryer and more brittle, allowing fungus to enter via cracks on the surface. Those with weakened immune systems and reduced circulation may also have a greater risk of developing a foot fungus.
When fungus infects the skin of the foot and in between the toes, it’s called tinea pedis or athlete’s foot. When fungus enters the toenails, it’s referred to as a nail fungus or onychomycosis.
2. What does foot fungus look like?
Toenail fungus may begin as a white or yellow spot under the free edge of the toenail. As the infection goes deeper, the nail may darken and yellow and become thick, crumbly and ragged. When the area between toes is infected, the skin will appear red, flaky and scaly and will often peel, crack, itch and burn. Also, the classic ‘rough skin’ that presents as a dry, Velcro-like heel may also be a fungal infection. Sometimes a foul odor will be present and in severe cases, the feet can blister and develop sores. Fungal infections will worsen over time, so it’s important to start treatment as the first signs develop.
3. How do you treat foot fungus?
The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem by covering it up with nail polish. Severe cases can be very painful and cause permanent damage if left untreated. Your nail technician can help you decide on the right home care product or refer you, if a case of foot fungus is serious enough to see a doctor. Otherwise, the condition can be treated at home. However, be aware—some commonly recommended home remedies are ineffective, allowing the infection to progress, or can cause other issues. For example, undiluted iodine and repeated use of apple cider vinegar-based solutions can actually damage the skin.
Fortunately, there are safe, effective products available without a prescription. Look for products that contain clotrimazole, an ingredient commonly used to treat fungal infections. Footlogix has a complete line of anti-fungal products (Nail Tincture Spray, Peeling Skin Formula, and Rough Skin Formula) that contain clotrimazole, as well as other ingredients proven to promote healing, calm irritation and stabilize damaged skin barriers—killing the fungus and providing relief from the itching, peeling, and irritation often associated with fungal infections. Ingredients such as:
Avocado oil and panthenol to smooth and condition the skin,
Urea to help lock in moisture,
Spiraleen®, a proprietary anti-microbial agent.
The Footlogix proprietary Dermal Infusion Technology® carries these ingredients past the stratum corneum into the layers of the epidermis, ensuring that active ingredients penetrate into the layers of the epidermis and reach the targeted areas.
For best results, apply treatment products to clean, dry feet and toenails. Spray product across the nail’s free edge so it can penetrate under the free edge and across the top of the nail. When applying topical mousses, ensure the product gets in between the toes where fungus loves to hide. Footlogix anti-fungal products should be applied twice a day for the first two weeks and then once a day thereafter.
4. Is foot fungus contagious?
Yes! Foot fungus is contagious…even among body parts! Most commonly, an infected toe will spread the infection to the adjacent toes; but it’s also possible to spread a fungal infection to other parts of the body. For example, toenail fungus can be spread to the genitals (jock itch) if underwear comes into contact with infected feet as it is pulled on. Fortunately, this is rare.
It’s also possible to get a foot fungus simply by walking barefoot in an area where an infected foot has been, such as a public swimming pool or dorm room shower, or by sharing socks or shoes with an infected person. Incorrectly disinfected pedicure tools and equipment can also pass foot fungus from one unsuspecting client to the next.
5. Can foot fungus be prevented?
Yes. Healthy, intact skin is the best protection against a fungal infection, so keeping the feet clean, dry and adequately moisturized (to prevent micro-tears and cracking) goes a long way to prevent foot fungus. Make sure the feet are completely dry after bathing and always wear clean socks. If possible, wear foot covering in wet, public areas, such as pools and gym showers.
Getting regular pedicures will keep the nails clean and neatly trimmed and your pedicurist can check for changes in your toenails. Ensure that you go to a reputable salon that properly disinfects instruments between client appointments and preferably uses footbaths with disposable liners (versus piped spas or pedicure thrones) because the liners are one time use only and can be removed after use.
If you’re prone to foot fungus, regular maintenance with a topical formula containing clotrimazole like the Footlogix Anti-Fungal Toe Tincture Spray, Peeling Skin Formula, or Rough Skin Formula can control the overgrowth of fungi which lead to a fungal infection.