Over the past few weeks, many college students left the comforts of home to live in a dorm with hundreds of their peers. Getting away from mom and dad may be great, but dorm-life also has its downfalls, including the foot fungus and wart-causing virus that can be picked up in communal bathrooms/showers. "Shared showers are one of the easier places to contract fungus and bacteria because the wet, steamy atmosphere is a great place for them to breed," explains Oliver Zong, D.P.M. popular New York City podiatrist and foot surgeon. He offers these five tips for keeping feet fungus-free:
Cover Up: Never go barefoot! Always wear flip-flops when showering or walking around in a communal bathroom. "The easiest way to defend yourself against foot fungus and bacteria is to wear something on your feet, even in the shower" Dr. Zong says. "Athlete's foot and nail fungus are very commonly transmitted in shared showers. Even if the bathrooms are cleaned regularly, that doesn't help if the person who showered right before you had foot fungus or warts, both of which are contagious," he adds.
Scrub Your Feet: "Often people neglect to really scrub their feet in the shower because they assume the stream of soap and water is enough, but it's not," explains Dr. Zong. He recommends cleaning feet with PediFix Tea Tree Ultimates Funga Soap Cleansing Wash, which naturally fights bacteria and fungus, making it an ideal foot scrub. Make sure to dry thoroughly after washing, especially between toes, as dampness encourages fungus growth. For athletes and those who work out, this is an especially important step in foot care, he adds.
Wear the Right Socks: Keep your feet dry by wearing socks made of natural fiber, such as cotton. "The damp environment created by sweaty socks can lead to fungal infections of the foot like athlete's foot and nail fungus," says Dr. Zong.
Give 'Em Some Air: Avoid wearing tight shoes, and go barefoot or wear sandals when relaxing in your dorm room. Trapping your feet in tight shoes causes them to sweat more, which encourages fungus growth.
Know Your Feet: Check your feet and toenails regularly for any abnormalities and have any skin growths checked by a doctor. If you have athlete's foot, the skin on your feet will become itchy and sore, and crack and peel away. Toenail fungus is characterized by thick, discolored toenails. If you notice a flat growth on the bottom of the foot, which is usually associated with some pain, it may be a planter wart. "It is important to get rid of plantar warts quickly to avoid spreading them to others and to other parts of your body," says Dr. Zong. "I recommend using PediFix Wart Stick Wart Remover because it has a high concentration of salicylic acid, which is a great first line of defense against warts. It's also easier and less messy to apply than over-the-counter liquid wart removers," he adds.