Hygiene is a critical concern for all swimmers. Limber up, because today’s blog will discuss the risks of athlete’s foot and swimming.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
When it comes to public pools, many of us do not realize how truly filthy the water can become. Contrary to popular belief, chorine and other pool chemicals may not kill everything hazardous floating in–or around
–the water. This can include what fungus that causes the common ailment, athlete’s foot.
Nearly all cases of athlete’s foot are caused by the fungal pathogen Trichophyton rubrum
. This fungus feeds on keratin, a key substance of our skin, hair and nails. The symptoms of a person suffering from athlete’s foot may include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging, and burning. It usually begins between the toes, but can also spread to other parts of the feet and body.
While athlete’s foot is quite common, it is still important to speak with a medical professional before jumping to conclusions. After all, athlete’s foot can resemble severely dry skin or eczema, and vice versa. It is quite possible to misdiagnose yourself.
The Risks of Athlete’s Foot and Swimming?
Athlete’s foot and swimming have long been uncomfortable partners. According to a report from the American Academy of Dermatology
, the fungus that causes athlete’s foot could dwell on the floor or ground near pools, gyms, showers and locker areas. To prevent contamination, put on some footwear.
Pools are especially high-risk due to the increased moisture. As a preventative measure, keeping your bare feet from touching the surface is key. One tip is to wear flip-flops or water shoes
before entering a pool area.
Flip-flops are easy to replace if they are lost. However, they do leave the top of your feet exposed to stubbed toes and more. They can also be quite slippery, so flip-flops might not be the safest option for swimmers. These shoes are designed more for convenience for protection.
A better choice might be water shoes. These shoes cover your entire feet and provide extra grip to prevent slips and falls. The thick soles will also protect your feet from sharp rocks or other hazards. No matter which type of footwear you choose, both are helpful for preventing athlete’s foot around the pool area.
Avoiding Athlete’s Foot Before Swimming
Besides wearing footwear, it is crucial to properly shower before getting into the water. Make absolutely sure to clean and dry your feet before entering the water. If every swimmer would follow simple preventative hygiene tips
before getting in the pool, it would greatly reduce all of our risk.
Beyond that, if you’re using a public pool, be sure to check with your local health department. These organizations frequently rate and inspect the cleanliness of public swimming facilities. A bit of knowledge can go a long way.
Finally, always use a clean towel when drying off after a swim. Don’t wear damp socks and allow your footwear to dry completely between uses. Staying dry and avoiding possible areas of infection is the key to avoiding athlete’s foot and swimming.
Treatment of Athlete’s Foot
Fortunately, athlete’s foot may be common but it is rarely serious. In most cases, it can be treated with over-the-counter topical anti-fungal products. As mentioned earlier, for severe cases, definitely speak with a doctor. A medical professional will have the best course of treatment for your case and body.