How can I prevent athlete's foot?

There are a few ways to avoid getting athlete's foot:
  • Wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • Wear footwear that allows your feet to “breathe.”
  • Wear shower sandals or shoes in pool areas, public showers and gyms.
  • Use antifungal powder in your sneakers or shoes.
  • Keep home bathroom surfaces clean -- especially showers and tubs.
Paul N. Clayton, MD

There are a few components to prevention of athlete's foot (tinea pedis). Superficial fungal infections often develop in intriginous areas, such as in skin folds, groin, and between the toes as well as along the bottom of the foot. It is important to keep these areas clean and dry. Wash daily and be sure to dry between the toes. Apply an antifungal powder between the toes that contains miconazole or tolnaftate. Change socks daily or even 2-3 times per day if your feet sweat significantly. Alternate shoes to allow them to air out and dry between use. If you bath in public showers or tend to walk barefoot around the locker room, wear a shower shoe, sandal, or flip-flop to pretect your feet and help avoid exposure to fungi and bacteria.

If you experience a flare of athlete's foot, in addition to the above recommendations, there are several topical medications that can treat athlete's foot. Typically, medications that contain terbinafine, tolnaftate, clotrimazole, or an ingredient in the "-conazole" family will work well if applied 2 times daily for 2-4 weeks. If it persists or if wounds develop, be sure to follow up with your podiatrist.

James P. Ioli, DPM
Podiatric Medicine
The best way to prevent athlete's foot is by wearing sandals or shower shoes whenever you walk around a locker room or pool. Wash your feet with soap and water at least once a day, and keep your feet dry the rest of the time. Put on clean socks every day, and change them more often if you sweat a lot or get them wet. Give your feet a chance to "breathe": take your shoes off while at home, or wear sandals or canvas shoes that allow air to circulate. Avoid shoes or socks that make your feet sweat.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
If athlete's foot is not treated in a timely fashion, bacteria can develop in the skin. Learn more about how to prevent athlete's foot in this video by Dr. Oz.

You can take steps to prevent athlete's foot. Start by washing and drying your feet daily, paying special attention to the areas between the toes. Wear clean, dry, well-fitting socks. And if you share damp, warm areas like showers and saunas with others, wear flip-flops.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.