When you think of athlete’s foot, fungal toenails and warts, you may think of going barefoot in the summer as the ideal scenario for catching these fungal conditions, but at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC we see a fair number of cases of these conditions during the winter months as well. Why is this? Although you may not go barefoot as often in the colder weather, the perfect combination of circumstances—dampness, warmth and closed-in spaces—are frequently present and create a great incubator for fungal and bacterial infections to flourish. Wet or sweaty feet, trapped in socks inside of heavy boots or shoes in heated cars, homes and offices, can foster the growth of a fungal infection from a single direct contact with a virus.
Here are 7 tips for avoiding a fungal or bacterial infection this season:
1. Wash your feet every day with warm soapy water. Dry completely—don’t forget to get the spaces between your toes.
2. Don’t go barefoot in public places. Many patients move indoors to exercise in the winter. Gyms and school or community pools are great spots to encounter fungi in the locker room, shower area or on the pool deck. Always wear flip flops or shower shoes.
3. Change your socks when they feel damp, even if this means you go through multiple pairs in a day.
4. If your feet sweat an above average amount, try using foot powder before putting on your socks and shoes in the morning.
5. Keep any cuts, scrapes, blisters or ingrown toenails covered with a bandage. Any break in the skin is an open invitation for bacteria to enter and potentially start an infection.
6. Be sure your salon is using safe sanitizing practices for footbaths and tools. Better yet, bring your own tools to the salon.
7. Never use a towel, shoes, socks, nail clippers or any other item that has touched someone else’s feet.
If, despite your best efforts, you notice any signs of a fungal or bacterial infection in your feet, contact our Valley Stream or Lake Success office as soon as possible by calling: 516-825-4070 or 516-327-0074. Our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight and Dr. Marzana Mleczko will want to examine your feet and prescribe the correct treatment before an infection develops, or before the fungal condition spreads to another part of your foot or body.