MYTH Only dirty people get Athlete’s foot.
TRUTH A hygienic person can also become infected. Washing alone can’t remove tinea, and the problem may worsen if feet aren’t thoroughly dried afterwards because the fungus thrives in damp conditions. Never go without slippers at the gym locker room or neighbourhood swimming complex toilet. A 2011 study published in Plos One journal found that public loo floors are the dirtiest – among other surfaces within them – and harbour the greatest variety of germs compared to anywhere else. Walking around barefoot is a major no-no unless you want to pick up tinea or ringworm, the fungus that causes Athlete’s foot.
MYTH My skin isn’t peeling so I don’t have Athlete’s foot.
TRUTH Some people may only experience redness or dryness on their soles. If your feet have started itching and you aren’t sure why, check with your doctor. He or she will identify the cause and prescribe the appropriate medication.
MYTH Only feet get affected.
TRUTH Tinea can spread via contaminated clothes and surfaces, or when you scratch an infected area and touch other parts of your body. Fact: Ringworm can affect the groin area too, and an infection in the nether region is called jock itch. To protect yourself, always lay a clean towel over common gym equipment and mats – especially if you don’t know how often the items are disinfected.
MYTH I’m not sporty so I’m unlikely to get Athlete’s foot.
TRUTH While the fungal infection got its name because of its prevalence among athletes, it is by no means restricted to the gym or swimming pool. You can even pick up tinea at your nail salon, foot reflexology centre or spa – and even footwear shops. If you’re worried about ringworms in display shoes, bring your own socks when trying and buying footwear.