Athlete's foot: How to protect yourself from annoying athlete's foot in the outdoor pool

The risk of athlete's foot is particularly high in the outdoor pool
Many people like to go to the outdoor pool in summer to find some cooling off on hot days. However, walking barefoot and the large number of people there are particularly high risk of infection for athlete's foot. This is harmless in otherwise healthy people, but usually does not go away on its own. It is therefore important to treat the infection appropriately in order to avoid spreading to other skin areas and infecting others. To prevent this from happening in the first place, some precautionary measures should be taken, the most important rule being: "Do not walk barefoot!"

Mushrooms get into the skin through small cracks
Athlete's foot is a widespread phenomenon that affects up to 30 percent of the population. In most cases, athlete's foot (medical: "tinea pedis") is caused by skin fungi (dermatophytes) that penetrate the skin through small cracks or injuries. Older people as well as people with a weakened immune system, diabetes, neurodermatitis or circulatory disorders are more at risk, according to the information from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). There is also an increased risk of infection e.g. with a familial predisposition and a tendency to sweaty feet.

Itching and redness between the toes
The fungus mainly occurs between the little toe and the neighboring toe. The first signs are usually an itchy rash, redness, small cracks and scaly changes in the affected skin. Blisters and a slight burning sensation are also possible, with some people the skin is also whitish, thickened and somewhat swollen. If the athlete's foot appears on the sole of the foot over a large area, the (IQWiG) is referred to as “moccasin mycosis” (mycosis = fungal infection). In this case, the skin on the soles of the feet, heels and the edges of the feet is dry and flaky and itchy.

In otherwise healthy people, the fungal disease is usually harmless. But contrary to widespread misconception, it does not normally go away on its own. If the fungus is not treated, it can spread and lead to a nail fungus, less often it also affects other skin areas such as hands. It is therefore important to treat the fungus as quickly and effectively as possible. Anti-fungal agents in the form of creams, gels or sprays, which are available over the counter in the pharmacy, usually help here. These so-called "antifungals" can inhibit or even kill fungi in their growth.

Effective home remedies for fighting the fungus
Various home remedies can also help. Essential oils such as lavender, myrrh and tea tree have proven themselves, for example, because they have a fungicidal, disinfecting and antiseptic effect. Here, however, care should be taken not to use too much, but only to dab the affected areas. In addition, to avoid drying out, it is advisable to mix with a high-quality, cold-pressed carrier oil such as Olive or almond oil. Apple cider vinegar washes are also an easy and effective home remedy for athlete's foot, and a foot bath with black tea can also help with itching and pain.

Transmission through dandruff
Mushrooms lurk wherever it is pleasantly warm and humid, because there they find optimal growing conditions. That is why in summer the outdoor pool is a place where you can get infected with athlete's foot very quickly. Because this is usually transmitted through direct skin contact or skin flakes, which can happen, for example, when bare feet come into contact with infected skin flakes in the shower or at the edge of the pool. It doesn't matter whether the feet are clean or dirty, because athlete's foot is not related to poor hygiene, according to IQWiG.

Always wear flip flops for safety
In general, people with an increased risk in the outdoor swimming pool should be particularly careful. The most important recommendation here is: Never walk barefoot! Because the mushrooms can e.g. Survive on flooring, sauna benches, bath mats or loungers. Bathing shoes should always be worn in the swimming pool, communal shower and changing room. It is also important that the feet dry well after swimming and showering or that they are best blow-dried, according to the IQWiG.

Even those who already have nail fungus do not necessarily have to do without an outdoor pool visit. However, it is essential to take appropriate precautionary measures in order not to infect other visitors. Of course, the right treatment is particularly important here. In addition, those affected should not let their own towels be used by others and take an extra towel for the affected areas to protect themselves against transmission to other areas of the skin. After visiting the swimming pool, it is advisable to wash the towels at a temperature of at least 60 degrees in order to completely kill the pathogens. Regular disinfection of the flip-flops should also be ensured. (No)

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