5 myths about athlete's foot

Think that showering regularly will prevent infection with this itchy fungus? Guess again. We explore this and other myths about athlete’s foot.

13 February 2015
by Annie Brookstone

Fiction: It’s called athlete’s foot – that means only athletes get it, right?

Fact: Think again. “Tinea, the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, thrives in warm, moist and dark conditions,” says Cape Town general practitioner Dr Michelle Pentecost. “The idea that only sporty people get it comes from the fact that physical activity can create the ideal environment for the fungus within the shoe, as well as from the fact that it is frequently picked up in changing rooms at gyms and public pools. However, anyone can get it.”

Fiction: Showering regularly reduces your risk of catching athlete’s foot

Fact: If anything, showering might increase your risk – that is, if you are using public showers where you can be exposed to the fungus. “Good hygiene is not enough to protect you from athlete’s foot – keeping feet clean and dry, so the fungus can’t multiply, and avoiding walking barefoot in public areas or sharing towels, shoes or socks are your best bet for staying free of athlete’s foot,” advises Dr Pentecost.

Fiction: Athlete’s foot will clear up on its own

Fact: Far from it. Left untreated, athlete’s foot will only get itchier and more uncomfortable and may even lead to infection of the nail bed or a more serious bacterial infection which may requite treatment with antibiotics. Speak to your Clicks pharmacist about antifungal creams and pills to eliminate athlete’s foot before it gets out of hand.

Fiction: Athlete’s foot only affects the feet

Fact: It may go by another name when a different body part is affected, but the tinea fungus isn’t only lurking in your shoes. “Jock itch, which is a fungal infection in the groin area, is caused by the same fungus,” says Dr Pentecost. “It can also affect the underarms as this is another warm, moist environment.”

Fiction: You can stop treatment once the symptoms have disappeared

Fact: Being symptom-free doesn’t mean that you are fungus-free. It’s essential to use the medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor for the recommended time, even if the symptoms have disappeared, in order to kill off all the fungal spores and prevent the infection from flaring up again.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com