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Winter Athlete’s Foot Alert: Who Needs to Be Careful?

Winter Athlete's Foot in boots.

As the weather suddenly turns cold in winter, many people start using warm clothing items like thick socks and gloves. One thing to be particularly cautious about during this time is winter athlete’s foot, affecting both hands and toenails. Generally, athlete’s foot is thought to occur more frequently in the hot and humid summer, but in reality, the fungus can proliferate regardless of the season.


1. Causes & Environmental Factors of Winter Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot, a skin condition caused by fungal infections, thrives in moist conditions. Wearing thick socks, boots, or gloves for extended periods in winter can create an environment with poor ventilation and excessive moisture, ideal for fungal growth. Additionally, in winter, people tend to neglect hand and foot care due to being bundled up, increasing the risk of developing athlete’s foot.


2. Symptoms & the Importance of Early Treatment

Various symptoms can appear if one contracts winter athlete’s foot. Specifically, if the infection is on toenails, the nail surface may become rough, split, or crumble whitely. Nails might also thicken and discolor. These symptoms vary with the progression of the infection, and the more advanced it is, the harder it is to cure. Therefore, even if symptoms appear only on part of a nail, prompt treatment is crucial.


3. Treatment Methods & Professional Medical Care

If the infection covers less than 50% of the entire toenail, athlete’s foot can be treated with specialized topical medications available at pharmacies. These treatments are applied directly to the infected area and are generally effective. However, more potent treatment methods may be necessary for severe nail damage. This involves removing the nail under local anesthesia, applying ointment, and waiting for a new nail to grow. Such treatments are conducted in professional medical facilities and are mainly used in severe cases of winter athlete’s foot.


4. Personal Hygiene for Preventing Winter Athlete’s Foot

Thorough cleanliness is essential for preventing athlete’s foot in winter. When washing feet, pay special attention to areas like between the toes, where ventilation is poor. Use soapy water for thorough cleaning, and ensure to dry your feet completely, possibly using a hair dryer. For those with sweaty feet, applying powder to keep them dry is beneficial.

When wearing gloves, thick boots, or shoes for extended periods, it’s important to take them off regularly for ventilation. Indoors, it’s better to switch to slippers instead of shoes. Alternating between different pairs of shoes, rather than wearing the same pair continuously, is advisable. Shoes that have been worn should be periodically aired or disinfected with sprays, as they might harbor fungus. Placing newspaper or a desiccant inside the boots can also help remove moisture.

Finally, using personal items instead of communal towels or robes in public places like hot springs or bathhouses is safer. Paying attention to personal hygiene for winter athlete’s foot prevention can be significantly helpful during winter.


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