Foot fungus can be very difficult to treat. It’s incredibly contagious and moves easily from person to person, which makes it an annoyingly common condition. However, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore. It can cause a variety of negative effects, many of which are upsetting, uncomfortable, or even embarrassing.
Each case of fungus will have its own signs and symptoms. Whether it’s itchiness, redness, odor, or an impact on your mental health, an infection of the foot or other part of your body can have lasting consequences.
Even worse, foot fungus can even travel between parts of your body. What began as an irritating patch between your toes can eventually plague your hands, groin, or even face. Of course, how you treat one area will be different from others, for example, you wouldn't use a foot cleaner on ... say jock itch.
So, let’s explore the different fungi you may encounter, how to treat them, and how to avoid reinfections. By the end, skin infections will be on the run and you can enjoy a treatment option that works perfectly for you.
Most Common Types of Body Fungus
Fungal skin infections come in many varieties. However, there are four that stand out most prominently – and present the greatest risk for reinfection.
Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)
The body fungus we’ve all heard of is tinea pedis, also called athlete’s foot. For the average person, this type of infection occurs when your foot makes contact with a fungal infection through a shared surface. For example, if you’re in a locker room with another person who has tinea pedis, you may step on the floor where they’ve stood. If their foot was infected, that spot on the floor is now infected – and, sadly, your foot is infected too. That’s why it’s called athlete’s foot.
This fungus is extremely resilient. It will grow only nearly any skin surface and latch onto any crevices, in dark places (like under your nails), or in moist areas (like between your toes). Though generally an infection of the foot, you can rather easily transmit it to other areas of your body.
Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)
Next we have tinea cruris, also called jock itch. The main difference between this and athlete’s foot is where it occurs. While athlete’s foot occurs on the foot, jock itch occurs on and around the groin. It’s often the same growth as with foot fungus, just in a different area.
Why does fungus thrive here? Because people cover their groin area and it’s more difficult to completely dry out after showering. After all, even the steam of your bathroom may allow moisture to gather there as you’re getting dressed. As such, infections of the skin are provided a moist, dark, undisturbed area to propagate.
What if you have a fungal infection on your hands rather than your feet? Tinea manuum refers to any fungal infection of the hands. Because you wash your hands regularly and dry them thoroughly, it’s much less common than infections in the skin of the foot.
Methods for handling tinea manuum are the same as those to prevent athlete’s foot. Because you use your hands every day, however, it might be easier to apply antifungal medication and care for the skin.
Onychomycosis (Tinea Unguium)
Tinea unguium is a toenail fungus infection. While technically a part of the foot, it’s definitely worth its own category. Rather than causing skin discomfort as a whole, it can lead to your toenail growing thick, discolored, cracking, or even falling off.
That’s because the fungus damages the nail bed and can flourish unchallenged, perfectly secure under the nail itself. As such, a fungal nail infection is often more difficult to treat than fungal skin infections, because of this built-in protection.
The most common symptom of fungal nails is brittle, crumbling, or easy-to-break nails. If you notice these signs, then don’t worry – it is treatable. However, it may require more time than standard antifungal treatments.
How Do You Get Foot and Body Fungus?
So, you may have foot or body fungus. But how exactly did you get it? Narrowing down the contact point can help you understand the kind of fungus you have – and how best to treat it. Since body fungi passes from person to person in a variety of ways, check out these possibilities:
Contact With Infected People
As mentioned, a fungal infection can go from one person to another through direct contact. For example, if you shake hands with someone who has an active fungal growth on their hands, you might also end up with fungal signs and symptoms.
However, you’ll be surprised to learn it’s not the most common method of transmission. When it comes to foot conditions especially, it’s fairly rare to have your foot touch someone’s infected foot. Instead, you likely picked up your case from one of the following contact points.
In contrast, a warm, moist environment is one of the most common methods of fungal transmission. That’s where the name “athlete’s foot” comes from. Locker rooms not only have people walking barefoot through them – they’re steamy, moist, and almost never entirely dry. This makes them a breeding ground for fungi.
Keeping your feet clean and dry is an important element of avoiding fungal infections. If you’re using public showers or public swimming pools, you’re putting yourself at serious risk. Only a few infected people need to walk through these environments to cause an outbreak.
With that said, locker rooms and pools aren’t the only danger zones. Fungal infections of all types thrive in moist environments. You may encounter this anywhere people are barefoot near moisture; on boardwalks at the beach or at spas, for example. To avoid toenail fungus, consider washing your feet separately at home.
There are some conditions, including certain infectious diseases, that can increase your risk for fungal infections. For the most part, it’s diseases which impact people’s immune systems. If you can’t fight off an infection properly, you’re more likely to contract it.
Risk factors for infections of the skin include a number of different conditions, such as people with diabetes or those on prescription medications.
How Do You Rule Out Other Foot Problems?
Food fungus may return back time and time again. That makes it easy for you to see warning signs, take it as another case of foot fungus, and brush it off. This allows other conditions to go untreated – or leaves you to waste athlete’s foot creams on a non-issue.
Before you proceed, be sure to consider these other conditions commonly affecting feet. Once you’ve ruled them out, you can proceed to the ideal treatment plan.
A plantar wart is a small growth that happens because of pressure on areas of your feet. At first place, this growth may cause you to assume there’s a foot infection in play. However, plantar warts typically show up as individual calluses on your feet. Fungal infections will appear as a wide problem area without perfectly set borders.
When you notice redness and foot pain to one side of a toenail, you might have an ingrown toenail instead of a fungal infection. Ingrown toenails can be painful, but typically require lifting or removing parts of the nail instead of antifungal treatments.
Fungal growths and bacterial infections aren’t the same, but they can look very similar. Keep in mind that bacterial infections are swollen and red, rather than itchy and flaky. You may also see a discharge around the area. If it doesn’t go away on its own, it’s wise to seek medical attention.
What Are the Best Solutions for Fungal Infections?
Fungal infections are common, contagious, prone to reinfection, and very uncomfortable. So how do you get rid of them for good? The right home treatment can let you address it directly, privately, and effectively. In more severe cases, you may need to seek a doctor’s advice.
Let’s check out these antifungal problems for athlete’s foot and other skin conditions.
Tea Tree Oil
A highly effective over-the-counter antifungal therapy is tea tree oil. This can help alleviate the symptoms of fungal infection and prevent its growth overall. It’s even a medically reviewed treatment, with one study finding that tea tree oil cured fungal infection in the toe webs in 64% of people.
If you’re looking for a great treatment option at home, tea tree oil can be your first option. Just be sure to use a 25-50% concentration, with a neutral oil like coconut as the carrier. Since condensed tree oil can be very abrasive on the skin, you don’t want to apply it directly. The dilution not only allows you to benefit from the other ingredient (like coconut oil’s moisturizing properties), but it prevents a home remedy from turning into a bad time.
The fungus likes to latch onto nooks and crannies in your skin. When you remove the dead skin cells from your feet, you’ll reduce the risk of contracting toenail fungus. As such, exfoliating your skin is a great way to lessen the breeding space for fungus and prevent future infections.
However, make sure you don’t exfoliate too much. If you cut or scrape on your foot, it could allow bacterial infections inside as well. Using a safe and effective exfoliation method like a pumice stone can help do the trick. After each session, be sure to properly sanitize the stone, to avoid reinfection if the fungus then clings to it!
If things get really out of hand, it’s wise to call your doctor. Most fungal infections clear up on their own or with a topical treatment at home, but a small number may continue to linger. In this case, prescription medications can help eradicate the infection.
There are many antifungal medicines your health care provider may suggest. Generally, these produce results in 4-6 weeks.
Keeping Your Skin Dry
Ensuring that you keep your entire body clean and dry is one of the most important elements of avoiding a superficial fungal infection. Keeping your groin, hands, face, and feet dry will provide fungus with fewer places to grow.
Whether you’re in a warm, moist environment regularly or you barely go walking barefoot, make sure you think about the impacts of fungal skin infections. Always wash your feet when you get back home, then dry them off thoroughly.
Curing: The Number One Fix: Athlete’s Foot Pumice Stone With Tea Tree Oil & Antifungal Soap From Love, Lori
If you need a quick and effective fix, then the Athlete’s Foot Pumice Stone from Love, Lori is thorough. It includes tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and lavender oil. This can soothe and soften dry and irritated feet. Plus, it’s a dual-sided product: one side is an exfoliating pumice stone, while the other is an antifungal therapy for athlete’s foot.
This product combines a variety of the helpful tricks that can maximize your ability to treat and prevent athlete’s foot. It’s a holistic and thoughtful way of looking at topical antifungal treatments. Plus, it can help ensure you don’t get athlete’s foot again, since reinfection is very common.
Athlete’s foot is confusing and frustrating. However, once you identify the exact fungus you’re dealing with, and have ruled out other possibilities, it’s easy to get the treatment you need. It just takes patience and persistence to risk yourself of skin infections.
The best way to avoid athlete’s foot is to ensure it doesn’t take hold in the first place. When you want to prevent athlete’s foot, make sure you utilize the best possible tools in antifungal therapy with the foot care products from Love, Lori.