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Traveler’s foot may be athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungus that spreads easily among unsuspecting travelers. By following a few simple tips, you can ensure you don’t contaminate your feet in your hotel room or at the barefoot show known as the airport security checkpoint.

Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal infection of the feet. Every day, podiatrists see people with feet that burn, itch, and peel. Although many different species of fungi and yeast can cause the problem, the ways that you, as a traveler, can prevent it are simple and effective.

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot thrives in dark, hot, and humid places. Shoes are the perfect habitat for fungi. Unfortunately for business travelers and vacationers, there are many places in airports, hotels, and vacation spots that are covered in fungus waiting to infect your feet.

As long as live foot fungi or fungal spores (which are basically fungal seeds waiting to sprout) stick to bare skin or enter through tiny openings in the skin, they can take hold and begin to grow. As the fungus grows, it draws water from the surrounding skin.

This causes scaling and itching of the skin as the fungus damages and causes delamination or peeling of the outer layers of the skin. The infection often begins in the moist area between the toes or the bottom of the foot.

Foot practitioners often describe a “moccasin spread” pattern with athlete’s foot infections. This means that the areas of the feet that redden and begin to peel are usually those that would be in contact with the loafers. The tops of the feet and ankle are usually not affected.

Fortunately for you, the most effective prevention measures are also very easy … don’t step on the fungus! When you travel, you just have to know where not to step.

You have to make sure to protect your shoes against fungus. Shoes should be a safe haven for your feet. Anytime you have live fungus or fungal spores in your shoes, you run the risk of getting toenail fungus or an athlete’s foot infection.

No matter what you do, when you travel, your feet will breathe. A rushing and stressful pace in the airport terminals, trying to make that connection while carrying a laptop and a tote bag will make you (and your feet) sweat like crazy.

Since fungi need moisture to live, you should do everything you can to reduce the moisture in your shoes. A good place to start is with well-ventilated shoes that breathe while you are traveling. Shoes that have a breathable mesh upper made of nylon, mesh, or cotton breathe quite well and let moisture escape. Leather, plastic, and rubber tend to trap shoe fungus, which encourages fungus growth.

Make sure to rotate your shoes during your trip. Have at least two pairs of shoes so you can wear them every other day. This will give them plenty of time to dry completely before using them again.

If you are very active or your feet sweat a lot, try changing your socks in the middle of the day. This is one of the easiest ways to keep your feet dry and fungus free. Wear synthetic socks and avoid cotton to keep moisture away from your feet. There are also newer socks available that have copper fibers woven into them. Copper stitching to decrease the likelihood of fungus sticking to the sock material.

Because even the most relaxing vacations involve a lot of walking around airports, hotels, and sightseeing, choose comfortable walking shoes for your trip. Many vacationers opt for sandals or flip-flops when on vacation, however these can lead to friction blisters that let fungus in and start infection.

Make sure to avoid mushroom hot spots. The mat you feel under your sock-covered feet as you wait to pass security is a haven for the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Throughout the day and night, sweaty feet emerge from their shoes and crawl across the carpet. Everyone walks and stands in this continuous stream of sweaty feet and shedding of foot fungus. As he trudges down the line, his sweaty socks collect fungal spores. Then, put your feet back in the shoes that act as incubators to start your own foot fungus farm.

Unfortunately, most airport security checks now require every pair of shoes to go through the X-ray machine. But this doesn’t mean you can’t protect your feet. A simple solution is to take a pair of old and worn socks to the airport. Carry a clean pair in your pocket. Kick off your shoes and go through security in your old worn out socks. After passing through the checkpoint, remove your old socks and put on clean ones before putting your shoes back on. Throw away the old socks. Now you can start your vacation mushroom-free!

The next place to avoid is the hotel’s carpet and bathroom. You never know how clean those places are, regardless of how expensive the hotel is. Just because it costs as much as a hospital room doesn’t mean it’s as clean. If you wear socks in the hotel room, just don’t put your shoes on until you change your socks.

Make sure to step on the plush rug when you get out of the shower, too. If possible, get a clean rug with clean towels every day. If you go down to the sauna at the sports facilities, be sure to wear shower shoes. All the heat and humidity create the ideal environment for fungi. Fungi can also grow on the tiles around the pool and hot tub, but the chlorine in the water helps prevent it from being such a big problem.

If your trip takes you somewhere where you can go to the beach, be sure to wear sandals to protect your feet. Don’t forget that any small cut or abrasion is the best way for fungus to enter and start an athlete’s foot infection.

Now that you understand the basics about toe fungus and where it tends to thrive, you can easily avoid them. Between airlines and security, travel is downright bad. You certainly don’t need anything else under your skin.

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