Your Most Embarrassing Beauty Problems - Decoded
Too mortified to talk to your friends or derm about your gross beauty issues? Here's the ugly truth on what's causing them -- and how to lose them for good
What It Actually Is: Foot fungus, also known as ringworm of the foot and tenia pedis, is caused by a fungus that thrives in damp, confined conditions (so my fears aren't too far off the mark). The same fungus causes toenail infection, and Dr. Krant notes that it's easy to keep re-infecting your feet once your nails are infected. The symptoms include itching and scaly skin, especially between the toes. Blisters and cracked heels may also develop.
How You Get It: Contrary to popular belief, walking around barefoot may actually prevent foot fungus. The fungus requires a warm, moist environment, such as the inside of a shoe, to thrive. Most people pick it up in communal showers or by using the towel of an infected person, so bring your own flips to the gym.
How You Get Rid of It: "Over-the-counter treatments have gotten more effective in recent years, and include formerly prescription-strength antifungal creams," says Dr. Krant. Try Funga Soap by Pedifix for foot fungus, which contains antifungal tea tree oil, and Fungi Nail Antifungal Solution for fungus under the nail. Vinegar soaks (made with one part vinegar and two parts water) can also be helpful for 15-20 minutes daily. Dr. Krant warns that many patients underestimate the length of the treatment for OTC products (standard treatment time is around 12 weeks), and stop the medication before the fungus is completely eradicated. If your feet are particularly sore, or if the rash is spreading, Dr. Krant says it may be a bacterial infection or inflammatory condition that can't be treated with OTC creams. If you're in that number, see a dermatologist.
How You Prevent It: Dr. Krant recommends keeping feet as dry and sweat-free as possible. Change your shoes and soaks daily, and allow your feet to breathe. If you're prone to foot fungus, or have particularly sweaty feet, use antifungal foot powders in your socks to prevent reinfection.
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