The cold winter season is most certainly upon us! For many of us, that means we spend the days with our feet enclosed in shoes and socks, and often go straight into slippers when we get home. Although handy for keeping feet warm, these habits present their own potential problems which can go unnoticed for weeks at a time simply because we’re not barefoot for long enough to realise they are there.
Feet can stay moist when they are in shoes and socks or slippers all day, and this can create a perfect environment for a fungal infection to occur. This is commonly known as Athlete’s Foot or Tinea Pedis and can be caused by several different types of dermatophyte fungi. Often this might begin as mild itching or redness between the toes, however it can progress to skin splits, inflammation and potential secondary bacterial infection if left untreated.
One of the best ways to manage and prevent fungal infections is by ensuring feet are thoroughly dry, particularly between the toes. This can be done after a shower by carefully drying between the toes, applying a powder (either antifungal or talcum powder) to the feet before putting socks on, and ensuring that socks have good moisture-wicking qualities. Socks made from a synthetic blend, such as Shoe Clinic’s Drymax socks are more effective at this than natural fibres such as cotton or wool, as these tend to soak up moisture and stay damp. It is also important to change socks daily, and to try and opt for shoes which give more space around the toes to prevent occlusion.
Because of the unpredictability of winter weather, a helpful hint can be to keep a spare pair of socks at work or in your bag, so that if your feet get wet during your commute to work then you don’t have to sit with wet feet for the next 8 hours.
At Resonance Podiatry, we can help to diagnose and assist in creating a management plan for those who are prone to fungal infections. We can also determine whether it is a true fungal infection or a soft corn or bacterial infection, which can sometimes be difficult to differentiate.
Article by Resonance senior podiatrist Bronwyn Easterbrook-Smith