Athlete’s foot in the sauna and how do I protect myself from it?

It itches, scales and sometimes even bleeds. We are talking about athlete's foot. He can also meet you in the sauna. We'll tell you how to prevent that.
Athlete's foot is contagious, the pathogens sit in saunas, in showers and on the tile floor

Hygiene tips for athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot in the sauna and how do I protect myself from it? Athlete’s foot is an annoying companion of the well-groomed sauna experience. People who are susceptible to it know it only too well. It itches between the toes, and if everything goes wrong, open sores develop. But it doesn’t have to come to that. Even people who are often attacked by the fungus can successfully prevent it.

The best thing about it: The baths provide the means completely free of charge. For purely self-purpose. The disease is highly contagious – and the operators want to maintain their good reputation. We have compiled everything you need to know about this plague.

What is it exactly?

As disgusting as it sounds, it really is a fungus. It sprouts between your toes because it is moist, warm and dark there. If you don’t treat the infection, the fungus will continue to grow – and can possibly infect your entire foot. But it probably won’t get that far. After all, the fungal infection triggers a severe itch that you want to get rid of quickly.

Now let’s get medical: it is a fungal infection that mainly affects the spaces between the toes. It can spread to the sole of the foot and also to the back of the foot. If the fungus also affects the nail, it is commonly referred to as nail fungus. This infection is very difficult to treat.

Every third person in western industrialized countries is affected by such an infection at least once in their lifetime. The older you get, the more likely you are to become infected. By the way, physicians speak of tinea pedis.

The fungal disease is caused by Trichophyton rub rum, a thread fungus. It nests in your skin. To do this, it has devised an ingenious technique: it damages the protective acid mantle of your skin and thus adheres particularly firmly to the surface.

Transmission and infection?

To prevent it from being accidentally lost, the fungus attaches itself very tightly to your skin. However, it is constantly busy renewing itself. In the process, it always sheds a few skin cells – and these now contain fungal spores. This is precisely the cause of further infections. If someone accidentally steps on the microfine particles, the fungus sticks to them. In the sauna, by the way, the danger is even greater.

We have often written in this magazine about the fact that sweating has a peeling effect on the skin. And peeling means nothing other than that tiny particles of skin are loosened, and this also applies to the feet in the sauna. They then fall to the floor of the sauna cabin. The wood even helps them to survive. There they then wait for their next host – and he will come quickly. After all, we are all naked and barefoot in the sauna.

At the foot of its new host, the fungus tries two things at once. First, it tries to attach itself to the skin, which it does especially well when it finds an injured spot. And secondly, it travels as a stowaway through the sauna facility – spreading its spores as far as it can. Under certain circumstances, this can trigger a chain reaction.

Course of an infection

Once the fungus has taken hold, the suffering begins for its carrier. It itches – incessantly. Once it has set in, the infection spreads quickly. First, the athlete’s foot attacks the surrounding areas. The soles of the feet are particularly at risk – after all, this is where it is moist, warm and dark. After a while, however, it becomes more undemanding and can also infect other regions of the body. Especially the toenails are a good nesting place for the fungi.

Athlete’s foot is no trifle – and it doesn’t just go away. You’re sure to use your hands to scratch it. And they can get it all over your body – it can even affect organs. That sounds crass at first. But it is not that improbable. In this respect, you should act immediately when you feel the first symptoms. How exactly, we explain below.

Which people are particularly at risk?

Bad news for all sauna fans: Visitors to sauna areas belong to the number one risk group. They walk around barefoot in places where many others do the same. And someone who suffers from athlete’s foot is always present in large facilities. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will necessarily and immediately develop athlete’s foot infection.

The fungus is able to break through the acid mantle of your skin and settle there, even if your feet are completely intact. However, most spores are too small for this. They do not immediately adhere firmly and may simply be washed away in the shower. It is more dangerous for all those who have small injuries on their feet.

That is why diabetics are particularly at risk. They usually also suffer from circulatory problems and therefore do not feel as much on their feet. As a result, they also overlook the one or other slight injury. People who suffer from other circulatory disorders also belong to this risk group.

People who sweat a lot on their feet are also more at risk than others. After all, the fungus likes it warm and especially moist. And that, in turn, is bad news for us sauna fans. Because even if you don’t suffer from sweaty feet under normal conditions, in the heat you sweat all over your body.

How can I recognize the fungus?

Recognizing it is not so difficult. The main symptom is that nasty itch. In the early stages, it will probably appear on one of your toes. But it can also affect your heel. You probably won’t see anything yet, the fungus is too small for that. If your foot is infected, white patches and pustules will form very soon. The more the fungus progresses, the larger the affected areas become. Later, large particles of skin will begin to detach. Underneath, you will notice softened tissue.

If the fungus has affected the heel, cracks will form in the cornea. In addition, the skin is painfully inflamed. If this occurs, you should be very attentive. Many people fail to recognize this form of fungal infection.

How can I protect myself?

The best way to protect yourself is not to walk barefoot in saunas. Grab a fancy pair of bathing shoes and you’re pretty much safe. There are now even special sauna shoes on the market. You can wear them even in the heat. By the way, don’t make the mistake of thinking that fungi don’t stand a chance in the shower. They lurk on the floor here as well. So you should leave your shoes on there too.

Here are a few tips on the side: always make sure your shoes and feet are dry. There is a possibility that the spores will somehow get on your shoes – and you should not give them a breeding ground. You should wash your towels directly after your sauna visit. You probably know why. Spores could have settled here as well.

Are your slippers too stuffy for you? Even then, there is an effective protection against infections. You’ve probably noticed the small silver taps coming out of the wall in the sauna facility. These are disinfection units. Press the little button and disinfectant runs out. It’s able to wash away fungal spores that haven’t settled too much yet.

Can I go to a public sauna like this?

No one can forbid you to do so. As you know, there are no foot fungus controls at the sauna checkout. But it is not very considerate. If you already know that your feet are infected, you should avoid the sauna until the fungus is completely gone. If you are not sure, ask your doctor for advice. Otherwise, you knowingly expose other people to a high risk of infection. No more slippers will help. It does not take much and the small spores spread on the floor anyway. Even the smallest vibration is enough.

Treatment of athlete’s foot

The orthodox medicine knows all kinds of effective means for the therapy, the so-called antimyotics. In the initial stage, an ointment applied to the affected area is enough. You can get it without a prescription at the pharmacy. The selection there is huge. Some products must be applied daily for weeks. Others, usually more expensive, only need to be applied once.

If the fungus is already more advanced, you should ask your doctor for advice. It may have spread to the deep layers of your skin or even to your organs. In this case, a cream will not help. In this case, tablets are needed. You can get them on prescription – your doctor will advise you accordingly.

If you notice the fungus early, even home remedies may help. The naturopathy mentions tea tree oil at this point. These natural remedies have been proven to have an antifungal effect. Many people have already had success with this cure. You need to apply the oil to the affected area several times a day. After a week, the fungus should be gone.

Other people also report that baths in water enriched with baking soda have helped them. The effect could come from the fact that the acids on the skin are neutralized – and thus the fungus is removed from the breeding ground. However, this has not been scientifically proven. If this therapy does not help the first time, you should try another remedy.

Athlete’s foot is an annoying disease that is often underestimated. Many people are tormented by itching for weeks. But this does not have to be the case. There are remedies that quickly get rid of the fungus. In addition, it is very easy to prevent.

Important note: The information in no way replaces professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of Saunazeit Magazine cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or start treatments.


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