Athlete’s foot is the most commonly known of the fungal skin infections and well over half of the population will have it in some form some time in their lives! As with any fungal infection you will notice a rash-like redness, usually peeling, and flakiness. The itching and burning are usually quite bad. Do not be alarmed – you will not actually see a fuzzy fungus – unless you have ignored your infection for a long long time. Fungal infections are actually quite hard to diagnose and doctors need to use a special tool to look at the infection up close or use a swab that will need to be tested, to differentiate between a fungal infection and a regular infection or dermatitis.
The best way to prevent fungal infections is to make sure you shower properly, especially after sweating or getting hot, and to make sure you dry your skin off completely after washing it – especially pay attention to all of your “folds” like your armpits, groin, back of knees, and between the fingers and toes – as moist skin can speed up bacteria growth. Most of the time any fungal infection you get will be passed on from others so avoid sharing towels and shoes, wipe off any gym equipment before using it, and be sure to use flip flops or other foot coverings when in a shared area such as a pool deck, locker room, or communal shower.
If you have already contracted a fungal infection there are some creams available at your pharmacy or by prescription, however studies have shown that a tea tree oil solution works as good if not better than any of those. You can buy a solution already made at most health food stores. Other people have found a simple solution of water and vinegar relieves the itch when they soak in it – then follow with a sprinkle of baking powder to dry out the area and keep it clean. If you are prone to fungal infections – eating a diet low in yeast and sugar has been known to help.