We’d kill to get athletic appendages that can make us get the big bucks (and become gods among men). Arms, thighs, legs, you name it.
Athlete’s foot a.k.a. alipunga, on the other hand, is something we’d like to avoid at all costs. Aside from being very uncomfortable, it also looks disgusting and is pretty much guaranteed to block all your plans of playing footsie with your date.
We don’t want that happening so, in the eighth installation of the FHM Kadiri Files, we'll give you the lowdown on athlete's foot and the deets on how you can deal with this scourge of your soles.
Read on, fellas!
WHAT IT IS
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Athlete’s foot has nothing to do with your athleticism: It's actually a fungal infection guaranteed to make you dread showing off your brand-new Havs come LaBoracay. The most common symptom of alipunga is itchy, scaly skin that can be rather painful. It usually occurs between the toes, but can also appear on the soles of your feet.
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Athlete's foot is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These nasties love moist, warm environments and consume keratin, a kind of protein found in nails, hair, and skin. They cause your skin to become dry and scaly, eating away at the moisture on it and giving you that "I-must-scratch-it-now" sensation. Maybe that’s why it’s called athlete’s foot: sweaty, sneaker-clad feet make for the perfect fungi breeding ground.
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Another annoying thing about this skin condition is that it’s super contagious. It can be easily spread by touching contaminated surfaces or objects. It’s especially easy to get it in locker rooms and pool areas, where people like to walk barefoot. When you see your anyone scratching his/her feet, don't shake hands with that person right after, no matter how friendly you're feeling or physically blessed he/she is.
CAN IT SPREAD?
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Guess what: You can get afflicted with athlete's foot in other areas of your body. This usually happens when you touch an alipunga-affected area and proceed to touch another body part. The name changes (of course you don’t call it athlete’s foot anymore when it’s on your arms), but it’s still the same fungal infection. For example, you call it "jock itch" when it’s on your groin and "ringworm" if it’s on your arms and chest. Yep, these darn dermatophytes won't shy away from turning our whole body into their own HQ.
Now that you've got the starter details on athlete's foot, it's time to tackle the all-important question for those who are unlucky and careless enough to cross paths (feet?) with it.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
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If you’re lucky, your infestation will go away by itself after a while (usually when you've improved your grooming rituals, here are some tips for doing so). Still, it’s better to actually do something about it than just waiting for it to go away.
Don't touch it! Yes, it’s itchy as hell. And yes, we know how tempting it is to pick at the scabby skin until it reaches a whole new level of gross. But that should be the last thing you should do if you really want to get rid of your alipunga since it can cause the fungi to migrate to other parts of your body. Also, more scratching = more scaling of the skin and, most probably, more pain (and blood if you've got jeepney barker-level nails).
Use anti-fungal cream We’re sure you know a few anti-fungal creams that promise to beat buni, hadhad, and other fungal infections with just a few applications. If you're infected, what are you waiting for? Don't you worry, a small tube (priced at around P200 to P300) is usually enough to do the trick.
Disinfect your footwear When you’re sure that rash on your toes is really athlete’s foot and not just a bad kalyo, you should thoroughly clean all the footwear—shoes, socks, tsinelas—you recently used. You can use a disinfectant like Lysol, or you can make your stuff inhabitable for the fungi by cranking up the heat. Also, don't let others wear your footwear and vice-versa; athlete's foot sharing increases with, well, sharing, you know.
Try alternative treatments Take advantage of vinegar’s germ-killing properties: Swab a suka-doused cotton bud on the affected areas, let it dry for 30 minutes, and rinse. Alternatively, you could also let your feet soak in a basin of water with a few teaspoons of vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes. You could also prepare a salt or baking soda soak to get rid of your alipunga.
See a doctor Set an appointment with a podiatrist (a foot doctor) if your feet aren’t showing any signs of improvement after trying at-home treatments or over-the-counter meds. For all you know, that rash might not even be athlete’s foot!
HOW CAN I AVOID IT?
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So you’ve never had athlete’s foot before. Good for you! Here’s how you can keep your fungi-free status:
Keep your feet clean and dry Good hygiene is the key to prevent a lot of sicknesses. Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water, and make sure they’re clean and dry before putting on your socks or shoes. If you’re in a rush, dry your feet properly and apply foot powder before getting dressed.
Trim your nails regularly The infection can lurk in your nails, so keep 'em as short and clean as possible. The possibility that the black gunk under your nails is actually a fungal breeding ground should be enough motivation to make you extra O.C. about these things. And if you’re the sort of guy who likes getting pedicures and manicures, make sure the tools the manicurist is using are properly sterilized to avoid any chance of infection.
Avoid walking barefoot Especially in damp or humid places, like around pool areas, showers, gyms, and locker rooms. That’s practically an invitation to get infected!
Don't share towels and shoes Like we said before, bacteria and fungi like it wet and warm. Don’t let them get to you by using someone else's towels, shoes, and socks. If you’re buying shoes from the ukay-ukay, clean them first before parading them around. And if you already have athlete’s foot (or any other fungal infection), please, don’t even think of offering to share your stuff. Promise, we won’t hold it against you.
Get your kicks some vitamin D Take advantage of the summer sun! An easy way to get rid of germs living in your shoes is to air-dry them every once in a while. Bonus: It’ll also help fight that ungodly feet stench!
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