Hyperhidrosis and Athlete’s Foot
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s Foot, also known as Tinea Pedis, is the most common type of fungal skin infection. Did you know hyperhidrosis and Athlete's foot have been linked together? Athlete's foot is a contagious infection that is caused by fungi called dermatophytes, which can be spread by direct or indirect contact with the infected skin. Once these fungi have contaminated the skin, they thrive in similar moist conditions, such as closed, damp shoes. Common ways to catch it are by sharing shoes, towels, mats, or other moisture-absorbing materials that the fungi can inhabit. While it is common in both athletes and non-athletes, the condition gets its name from the fact that it is most commonly contracted in shared public spaces where moisture is present, such as sports facilities, saunas, pools, showers, and locker rooms, all of which are places athletes regularly frequent. Symptoms for the condition generally include blisters, acute sensitivity to heat, itching, stinging, and burning sensations on the affected skin, and visual diagnosis can be made by a medical professional.
How can you treat Athlete’s Foot?
The infection is generally treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams, but it can take several weeks to months for the infection to respond to treatment and clear up. Even once it has been properly treated and seemingly cleared, it is likely to return if your feet are exposed to similar conditions again. This is why many who suffer from Athlete’s Foot battle with the infection for an elongated period, sometimes even suffering from recurring cases for years.
Successfully curing the condition will often require an individual to change their habits regarding foot care, which can include properly drying off feet, wearing moisture-wicking socks, and looser breathable shoes. This is easier said than done for those who suffer from excessive foot sweating, also known as plantar hyperhidrosis, who have uncontrollable and spontaneous excessive sweating. Often, moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoes are just not enough. Constantly producing excessive levels of sweat, which is then confined to the wearer's socks and shoes, creates the optimal environment for these fungi to thrive and spread. Once the infection may have seemingly cleared, it is likely to return as the conditions for the feet have not and the fungi can continue to live and re-infect the individual’s feet.
Are sweaty feet (plantar hyperhidrosis) to blame for Athlete’s Foot?
Sweaty feet are consistently ranked as one of the top risk factors for athlete’s foot and can even be the cause of recurring cases of the condition. In fact, a 2001 study found that hyperhidrosis, along with hot, humid climates and sporting activities, were the primary risk factors associated with athlete’s foot.
The link between plantar hyperhidrosis and Athlete's foot has been further analyzed in several clinical studies. A study found that the overall risk of any skin (cutaneous) infection was increased in sites with hyperhidrosis. There is also an increased risk of fungal infections, with a particularly increased risk for dermatophyte infections (those responsible for athlete’s foot). In a recent German study, researchers noted a 3.5-fold increased risk for patients with athlete’s foot to have hyperhidrosis. This is caused by the maceration (softening) of the skin due to excessive sweating. In the case of plantar hyperhidrosis, excessive sweat can soften the skin and decrease the defense against fungal infection, and can also weaken toenails, leading to ingrown toenails. Sweaty feet are a major annoyance, which can also lead to a range of skin and nail infections.
How can you prevent Athlete’s Foot?
Precautions must be taken to decrease your likelihood of contracting the infection and reduce your susceptibility of a recurring infection.
We’ve compiled a list of tips below!
- Wear moisture-wicking socks. Contrary to popular belief, cotton is not the optimal sock material as it absorbs moisture but doesn’t wick it away. Instead, opt for materials like merino wool and bamboo.
- Protect your feet by wearing sandals in shared public areas like sports facilities (gyms, saunas, etc.), locker rooms, and swimming pools.
- Don’t share towels, mats, shoes, or any other types of materials that hold in moisture, as these can easily spread the infection from one person to the other.
- Avoid tight-fitting, closed shoes. Leave some room for your feet to breathe! Walking around in closed-off shoes all day creates the perfect breeding ground for this type of bacteria.
- Wear well-ventilated shoes that facilitate proper ventilation, which allow your feet to breathe.
- Keep your feet dry by treating them with Dermadry’s iontophoresis machine! If your sweaty feet are making you uncomfortable, and you think they may be the underlying reason behind recurring infections, treat the root cause of the problem!
As hyperhidrosis is one of the primary risks associated with the development of athlete’s foot If you suffer from sweaty feet, then a great way to prevent future recurring cases is to treat the root of the problem. Dermadry’s home-use iontophoresis machine is an all-natural, non-invasive, drug-free, and needle-free treatment option that can provide up to 6 weeks of dryness. In addition to potentially preventing athlete’s foot, you will also enjoy day-long comfort in the footwear of your choice! However, if you currently have a case of athlete's foot, you must treat the fungal infection prior to beginning your Dermadry iontophoresis treatments. If this is the case, please read our guidance below!
What to do if you have hyperhidrosis and Athlete's foot?
If you are currently suffering from athlete’s foot, you must first treat the infection with the appropriate antifungal cream and wait for the infection to clear before starting your Dermadry iontophoresis treatments.
Tap water iontophoresis may not be effective on skin affected by athlete’s foot As athlete's foot is very common in hyperhidrosis patients, it is one of the most common reasons iontophoresis users have trouble achieving their desired dryness with their treatments.
Some obvious symptoms of athlete's foot include a burning sensation and small white blisters on the affected region(s). Athlete's foot thrives in moist conditions and may first appear in between the toes and finger and spread.
Despite what its name suggests, athlete's foot does not only affect the feet, and also commonly affects the hands. If you are experiencing difficulties or ineffectiveness with your iontophoresis treatments for palmar hyperhidrosis, you may have athlete's foot (a fungal infection) on your hands.
If you're currently doing iontophoresis treatments and discover you have athlete's foot, we advise you to stop the treatments for 2 consecutive weeks, During this time, we suggest you treat the infection by applying an over-the-counter antifungal cream called Clotrimazole, twice a day for this 2-week period. You can buy this cream at your local pharmacy or online here.
Once you have completed your treatment for your case of athlete's foot and it has completely cleared, you may begin your iontophoresis treatments. As athlete's foot can commonly be a recurring infection, be sure to wash and sterilize all fabrics your hands and/or feet have touched, particularly fabrics and items such as towels, socks, shoes, and bed sheets. Be sure to wash these regularly to ensure that your skin does not come back into contact with this infection-causing fungus.
Once your infection is gone, we suggest you start your treatments as soon as possible, as treating your hyperhidrosis will decrease your chance of recurring athlete's foot cases, as these fungi thrive in moist environments.
If you have any questions, please contact our support team for more guidance on overcoming obstacles to achieve your desired dryness. As always, for any medical matters, we also suggest you speak to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.