According to the CDC, more than 1 in 10 people in the United States have diabetes. Unfortunately, many people living with this disease must also face numerous other health issues, like kidney disease and foot problems.
Here’s an example: Research shows that athlete’s foot is more common in people who are diabetic.
When it comes to athlete’s foot and diabetes, there are a few things you can do to help protect your feet and keep your body healthy.
Keep reading to learn more about athlete’s foot, how diabetes affects your feet, and how to take care of the foundation of your body.
What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Although its name may make you think that only the sportiest people can contract athlete’s foot, the opposite is actually true. Anyone can suffer from this fungal infection.
Often, it starts in and around your toes, with small patches of fungal growth. Then it can spread to other areas of your feet. It can also spread to your hands if you’re not careful.
It’s also very contagious, and it thrives in moist, warm areas, like a shower. If you come into contact with an infected person or touch the same surfaces that an infected person has touched, then you can contract the condition.
However, you’re also at risk if you wear tight shoes and your feet get sweaty.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
There are a few different indicators that you may have athlete’s foot, including:
- Itchy blisters on your feet
- Cracking and peeling skin on your toes and feet
- Itchy feet and toes
- A stinging or burning sensation on the soles of your feet
- Dry, scaly skin on your feet
While athlete’s foot is not serious for most people, if you have diabetes, it can lead to significant health problems. If you notice any of these symptoms and you have diabetes, you should see a doctor right away.
Athlete’s Foot Treatment
Fortunately, most cases of athlete’s foot only require over-the-counter treatment. You can start by using a topical antifungal cream, applying it to the affected area until you start to see an improvement in the skin.
There are plenty of over-the-counter creams available at your local drug store or pharmacy.
If that doesn’t do the trick, you can talk to your doctor about prescription medication options. There are stronger prescription topical creams or oral antibiotic options that can help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of athlete’s foot and clear up the fungus.
There are also a few things you can do at home to help relieve the itchiness and pain associated with athlete’s foot.
Try soaking your feet in warm salt water to help clear up the infection. Some people have also had success applying hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol on the infected area.
And, to help keep your feet dry and less prone to developing athlete’s foot, you can try applying talcum powder to your feet to keep the infection dry and less likely to spread.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Feet?
Diabetes can affect your whole body, but it takes a toll on your feet in two primary ways: impacting blood flow and causing damage to your nerves. So, how does this put your feet at risk?
Poor Blood Flow
When you have diabetes, it’s harder for blood to flow through your body. This leaves diabetic feet with open cuts or sores vulnerable to further infection.
Without healthy circulation, it takes longer for cuts and other infections – like athlete’s foot – to heal, putting you at risk of developing gangrene.
If your diabetes isn’t under control, you can quickly experience nerve damage in your feet and legs. This is also known as diabetic neuropathy.
This nerve damage makes it so that you can’t feel cuts on your feet, and as a result, issues like athlete’s foot can get worse without you realizing it. Nerve damage in the muscles in your feet can also make it so your feet don’t work as they should.
Eventually, this can lead to the partial amputation of your toes, or full amputation of the whole foot.
Tips for Diabetic Foot Care
In addition to athlete’s foot, having diabetes means your feet are prone to other issues like ingrown toenails, bunions, diabetic ulcers, and more. Fortunately, by following a few best foot care practices, you can help protect your feet and keep them healthy.
Manage Your Diabetes
The best thing you can do for your feet is to make sure you’re managing your diabetes first. Make sure you check in with your doctor regularly, follow a healthy nutrition plan, and keep your blood sugar levels in check.
The better you control your diabetes, the less you’ll have to worry about the health complications that come along with the disease.
Wash Your Feet Every Day
It may sound simple, but washing your feet daily with soap and warm water can help prevent athlete’s foot. Make sure you dry them thoroughly, to help prevent a fungal infection.
Inspect Your Feet Regularly
After washing your feet, it’s a good idea to do a quick inspection, looking for any sores, cuts, or blisters. If you’re experiencing poor blood flow, you might not have noticed any issues, so doing a quick check can help prevent further infection.
Wear the Right Shoes
Athlete’s foot can develop when your shoes are too tight for your feet. Help prevent that by making sure your shoes fit well and give your feet space to breathe. You can even buy wide shoes to give your feet more space.
Athlete’s Foot and Diabetes: Knowledge Is Power
Now that you know more about the link between athlete’s foot and diabetes, you’re better equipped to protect your feet and stay healthy.
Try to follow the care tips above to prevent the fungal infection, and remember to see your doctor for treatment if you contract athlete’s foot.
For other health and lifestyle tips, be sure to read our other articles before you go!