Athlete's foot is a contagious skin disease that's caused by fungi. It makes the soles of your feet itchy and scaly, and it can even lead to painful cracks in between your toes. As the name suggests, people who spend a lot of time working out in gyms are at risk of getting this disease. While you probably know that you shouldn't walk around the locker room in your bare feet, there are other, less obvious things you can do to protect yourself. Here are four ways you can avoid getting athlete's foot at the gym.
Wear shoes that let your feet breathe
When you work out, your feet get warm and sweaty, so it's important to choose shoes that let your feet breathe. While athletic shoes with leather uppers may be stylish, they don't let air circulate around your feet, and the warm, wet environment that results is the perfect place for fungi to grow. Choose gym shoes with mesh uppers to ensure that your feet receive as much air flow as possible while you're working up a sweat.
Alternate shoes every other workout
If you workout every day, your gym shoes may never get the chance to dry out after a workout. If your gym shoes are still damp when you put them on, buy a second pair of gym shoes and wear them on alternate days. While you're sweating into one pair, the other pair will be drying out. This helps to protect you from athlete's foot because fungi doesn't grow well in dry environments.
Wear moisture-wicking socks
Moisture is essential for fungal growth, so you need to make sure that your feet don't get too wet while you're working out. While cotton absorbs sweat, avoid cotton socks as they'll saturate quickly and leave you with wet feet that are vulnerable to athlete's foot. Instead, choose moisture-wicking socks that will keep your feet dry. Fibers such as polypropylene and polyester have moisture-wicking properties.
Don't wear dirty socks
If you forget to put a new pair of socks in your gym bag, it can be tempting to workout in yesterday's dirty socks to avoid missing your workout session. This is a risky habit because poor hygiene, like working out in dirty socks, can contribute to athlete's foot. To avoid putting yourself in this situation, stash a few pairs of clean socks in your locker or gym bag.
If you develop athlete's foot, see a podiatrist for treatment.Share