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Dorms: Can you get athlete’s foot from the dorm shower?


Prevention and Treatment of Athlete's Foot

Men seem to be more susceptible to athlete's foot than women, as are older adults, people who have had previous fungal infections or those with compromised immune systems. The key is to treat it quickly before the problem worsens.

The most important way to handle athlete's foot is to prevent the condition from occurring in the first place. To do that, keep your feet as dry as you can. When taking a shower, wear flip-flops or shower shoes. They'll create a barrier between the fungi and your tootsies. After you get out, use your hair dryer to give a toes and feet a blast of hot air. When you're not showering, wear shoes that let a lot of air pass through. Vinyl shoes, for example, will stymie air flow and keep your feet moist. Also, wear cotton socks that absorb moisture. Wash your feet every day with soap and water [sources: MedicineNet.com, Brichford].

If you already have athlete's foot, you can treat it by using many over-the-counter fungal creams. It's important to continue using the creams for at least another month after all the symptoms have disappeared, but do check the specific product's directions [source: MedicineNet.com].

Another remedy is to douse your dogs with medicated powders such as those containing miconazole, an antifungal medication. You can also soak your puppies in a solution containing aluminum acetate, which kills bacteria and many types of fungi [source: MedicineNet.com].

The key is to treat it quickly before the problem worsens. Speaking of which, the best time to call a doctor is when your skin begins severely peeling or cracking, or blisters form. If your feet hurt; if they are swelling; if they are red or tender, then you might have a bacterial infection. Also, see a doctor if the wounds on your feet begin oozing pus [source: WebMD].

Lastly, it bears repeating that the dorm shower can be a microbial minefield. T. mentagrophytes and T. rubrum are just two of the many creatures that hide on the shower floor. A study conducted by the Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, found that shower floors were the most contaminated surfaces in college dormitories. In fact, it's probably cleaner to wash your face with toilet water than it is to step barefoot on the floor of a shared dormitory shower, although we wouldn't recommend it. According to the report, the shower floor had more than 40 times the number of bacteria than the toilet seat [source: Reckitt Benckiser].

The bottom line is to keep your feet dry and safe. You only have two feet, and you don't want to be scratching them in class or the library.


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