An athlete’s foot can be, well, large — Shaq wears a size 22EEE. Athlete’s foot fungus, well, that’s an even larger problem. Everyone from sports pros to your 3-year-old is at risk: It’s highly contagious and is caught from direct contact — from sharing shoes or walking barefoot in showers, locker rooms or around swimming pools.
The culprit is a fungus (tinea pedis) that also causes ringworm; it loves warm, damp places, like sweaty socks and sneakers, and the spaces between your toes. If you get it, you may see dry itchy patches along the bottom and sides of your feet, and red, peeling, cracked skin between your toes. Fortunately, you usually can treat it with over-the-counter antifungal preparations and a few smart steps:
Æ Wear well-ventilated shoes, and spray the insides with anti-fungal powder. Apply antifungal medication directly to your feet before you put your shoes on.
Æ Change socks frequently to keep feet dry. Don’t wear cotton socks for exercising; they hold moisture. Get socks made with wicking material.
Æ Dry your feet off when you get out of the swimming pool or locker-room shower. Bring your own towel; clubs often don’t wash towels in a way that kills fungus.
Æ Always wear flip-flops in the locker room or shower area.
Recurring battles with that fungus among us? Put anti-fungal creams or powders on your feet BEFORE you go into a public pool or locker room.
The You Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.