Eight hygiene tips for foot and nail fungus

What you should consider with foot and nail fungus so that you do not infect others and do not spread the infection

Almost everyone knows someone who has had athlete's foot, often in their own family. It is estimated that around three to 15 percent of the population are affected. Although the ailment is a taboo subject, it is better to take action against it early on. Because athlete's foot can usually be managed well with antifungal ointments, for example. On the other hand, if the nails are already affected, the treatment takes months.

The fungus can be transmitted via tiny flakes of skin. In order not to infect others and to prevent the fungus from spreading on their own body, those affected should follow a few hygiene tips:

1. Start treatment quickly

"That is the most important thing!" emphasizes dermatologist and laboratory physician Professor Pietro Nenoff from Rötha. Because if the fungus is treated with appropriate creams or solutions, the risk of infection is reduced. "About a week after the start of treatment, she should be banned," says dermatologist Dr. Viktor Czaika from Berlin.

2. Don't walk barefoot

Anyone who has athlete's foot should not walk barefoot out of consideration for others. Not even at home so as not to infect family members. Because even tiny flakes of skin can transmit the fungus. "The home or bathroom may actually be the main source of infection," says Nenoff. Because here you often move without slippers, while in the sauna, swimming pool or fitness studio, many pay attention to flip-flops. "To get rid of the fungal pathogens, it is advisable to wipe the floors with disinfectant at the beginning of the athlete's foot treatment and then once a week," says Nenoff. Don't forget the bathtub and shower tray! Normal cleaning with bathroom cleaner and water should also be 90 percent effective, the dermatologist suspects. Carpets should be vacuumed thoroughly.

3. Stay away from the mushroom

Touch your feet and nails as infrequently as possible and wash your hands thoroughly after each touch. Otherwise there is a risk of the athlete's foot being passed on to others or of spreading it to other regions on your own body. "For example, there is the so-called" two feet-one hand syndrome, "explains Nenoff. Both feet and one hand are affected by athlete's foot." Usually the left one - because that's how a right-handed person can hold the Feet or toe stuck during the treatment. "The fungus can also affect other parts of the body such as the groin or the head and face.

4. Wear cotton socks, change and wash daily

"Cotton or other natural fibers let more air into the feet, synthetics encourage sweating," explains Nenoff. The sweat softens the feet and creates favorable conditions for the fungus. The socks should be changed daily and washed at 60 degrees if possible. Does it make sense to put the socks on before putting on your underwear so as not to transfer the fungus to the genital area? "This can be done to be on the safe side," says Nenoff, "but it is much more important to treat athlete's foot consistently, then this risk is practically no longer present."

5. Use an extra towel for your feet

"Everyone should have that, but people with athlete's foot should definitely," emphasizes Nenoff. Then wash this towel regularly at at least 60 degrees.

6. Wash at least 60 degrees

Towels, bath mats, socks, bed linen: Everything that comes into contact with bare feet should be washed at least at 60 degrees. According to the expert, it is then unnecessary to separate the laundry of the athlete's foot from the rest. What if a material cannot withstand 60 degrees? "According to a study, 10 to 15 percent of mushrooms survive at 40 degrees," explains Nenoff, explaining the residual risk. The spores in particular can withstand these temperatures, says dermatologist Czaika. The addition of a hygiene rinse that is effective against fungi is therefore useful at lower temperatures in order to further reduce the risk of infection. It is best to wash the sick person's laundry separately.

7. Disinfect shoes

"It is generally recommended that you disinfect your shoes if you have athlete's foot, although to the best of my knowledge there are no studies that prove its benefit," says Nenoff. Nevertheless, he would recommend disinfecting shoes at the start of treatment and then once a week. Nenoff recommends using modern disinfectant sprays that are especially suitable for shoes and do not contain alcohol or propellants. "With older, often worn, closed-toe shoes, especially sneakers, you should take the athlete's foot as an opportunity to replace them with a pair of new ones," says expert Czaika.

8. Clean nail scissors, dispose of pumice stone

Foot care utensils should only be used by one person. Nail scissors and files can clean athlete's foot with a suitable disinfectant after foot care. Ask the pharmacy for advice on this. "If I had athlete's foot, I would dispose of a pumice stone," advises Nenoff.