Nov 29

Tip of the Month – November

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Coach Monika says…


Athletes and the Misery of Fungus Attack

Someone once said, “feet and fungus is a match made in hell.” Many athletes, no matter the sport, are susceptible to foot fungi due to regular use of gym locker rooms, pools, and shower stalls. Anyone who has suffered the unbearable itching and flaking of athlete’s foot can testify to the constant torment; and unfortunately, this nightmare of a fungal condition can actually lead to serious health problems.

In and of itself the fungus is not dangerous, according to dermatologist Dr. Walayat Hussain, consultant dermatologist and surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK. Since the condition becomes very itchy a secondary infection often occurs due to scratching.  Fortunately, over the counter antifungal creams sprays, and powders can combat this infection. However, athletes need to heed the following recommendations:

  • Wash and dry feet thoroughly
  • Wear cotton socks and shoes made of breathable materials
  • Wear flip-flops in locker rooms and shower stalls, and sanitize after each wear
  • Wash towels frequently – bacteria survive!

Compared to athlete’s foot, fungal toenail infections – which leaves victims with crumbly, thick, discoloured nails – are even more difficult to treat. Once gotten, the infection ‘colonizes’ the nail, and becomes a ‘lodger’, making it really difficult to get rid of, according to Hussain. He recommends using a topical treatment, applied directly to the infected nail, and a 3-6 month treatment course of antifungal pills is usually needed. Sometimes, exasperated patients, “literally just strip the toenails out.” Hussain does not advise surgically removing nails because “walking afterward is very painful.” Moreover, nail removal does not offer any guarantee of success.

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