The rainy season is upon us, and for those of us who have to commute everyday, this means squelching shoes and soggy socks. Even with an excellent umbrella, flood waters, deep puddles and the splash of hard rain on the pavement could easily leave you with wet feet.
Wet shoes or sandals are not only uncomfortable, but can actually expose you to all sorts of infectious diseases as well. While there are literally hundreds of diseases that you can pick up from dirty rain water, the most common one that you are most at-risk of is a little something called “athlete’s foot”.
No, it is not a condition that gives powerfully large and muscular feet — it is a common and highly contagious fungal infection that affects your skin. Though it is called ‘athlete’s foot’, you do not have to be an athlete to get it, and it can affect other parts of the skin, too, such as your hands. In Filipino, it’s called alipunga.
The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is called “tinea pedis”. It is also called “ringworm of the foot” — but don’t panic just yet! It isn’t a parasitic worm, just a fungus. Whether you think that’s better or not, it’s up to you.
People who are most at risk are those who have a weak immune system, but practically anyone can get it.
So how do I know I have it?
So what are the symptoms of athlete’s foot? Well, it usually starts with an itch. The skin becomes red, scaly, cracked or blistered, and can be incredibly uncomfortable. Some parts of the skin may look like it is peeling, or have a brown or whitish cast. If left untreated, the broken skin could become infected with bacteria. If the skin gets hot and swollen, better visit your doctor right away — it could be an infection.
Athlete’s foot is luckily, easy to treat. You can buy anti-fungal creams and sprays from any drugstore and in some groceries, too.
Unfortunately, the rainy season also means that we have a bigger chance of getting athlete’s foot. The fungus thrives in warm and humid conditions — just like the conditions created during the rainy season.
Here are some tips for you to keep your feet clean and fungus free this rainy season:
Skip the slippers and invest in rain boots
While most people choose to wear slippers or those rubber or jelly sandals during the rainy season, this type of footwear provides little to no protection for your feet. Your feet will be exposed to all sorts of fungi or bacteria floating around in the rain water, which increases your chances of catching athlete’s foot (or worse).
Instead, invest in good rain boots, which will keep your feet completely dry and protected. Keep an eye on the weather and wear them if you think it will rain. You can even buy foldable rain boots, which you can stuff in your bag — perfect for when it rains unexpectedly.
Bring a foot washing kit
If your shoes or feet do get wet, consider bringing a foot washing kit. All you need is a good soap, a small towel, and maybe some alcohol or anti-bacterial cream. If your feet get wet, make sure to wash them as soon as possible.You can fill a bottle with clean water and rinse them somewhere private if a shower isn’t immediately available.
Make sure you lather up the area thoroughly, and that you dry your feet completely, especially between the toes. Then, just disinfect your skin with a quick rub of alcohol.
When indoors, switch to breathable shoes or sandals
Once you are indoors, switch to breathable shoes or sandals. Tight, sweaty shoes will only encourage the growth of fungi, so you want to pick something that will keep your feet dry.
Apply antifungal powder or talc on your feet
Before putting on your shoes, use talc or an anti-fungal powder on your feet, making sure it gets between the toes. Most types of foot powders have anti-fungal properties, so you can use any brand that you prefer. One of the most popular foot powders available here is by Milcu.
Change your socks twice a day
Proper foot hygiene means changing your socks twice a day. You can bring an extra pair of socks if you need to, so that you can avoid fungal growth. No matter what you do, never, ever wear dirty socks! This will only encourage the growth of fungus.
Let your shoes air out for at least 24 hours before you wear them again
Athlete’s foot fungal spores do not thrive well in dry environments. This why you should let your shoes air out for at least 24 hours, which should get rid of most of the fungus. Now, understandably, the rainy season can make it hard for your shoes to dry completely between uses. If that is the case, there is no shame in blasting your shoes with a hair dryer to dry them. Just make sure to still let it sit for 24 hours afterwards.
Athlete’s foot is undoubtedly gross and something you do not want to deal with this rainy season. Keep high and dry, and your feet should stay fungus-free.