Fungus Among Us

Foot fungusDid you know that a foot fungus has been proven to spread from person to person? The small organism called a dermatophyte causes fungi to occur. Typically the resulting infection is a red itchy rash which, though bothersome, is non-threatening. Infections like this can be found in an average 10% of the population.

Though these infections are not usually a concern, if untreated the infection will spread to others. It also can worsen to the point where some experience painful liquid filled blisters which effect walking ability. Others have seen the disintegration of the toe nails or skin which leave permanent deformities. These require many medical treatments to correct and can impair movement. The physical appearance of toe nails is most often seen as distorted forever after. Many in the general population have toe nails which angle away from the end of the toe, have permanent waves or cracks in the nail, or have only partial nails. This look is what is left behind after the fungus is cured and though not dangerous can cause some embarrassment.

To help protect yourself from infection be wary of any time that your bare feet are exposed to the feet of others. Common places would be public showers at gyms or swimming pools, shoe stores, and bowling allies.

In most cases chemicals have been employed to protect the general public from infection. For example pools trust chlorine to kill off the fungus causing bacteria. Businesses like shoe stores often provide socks to help in the process of trying on shoes. Make sure that you do not try foreign shoes on and then return your foot to your personal shoe without changing your sock. The same precaution of changing socks can be taken at bowling allies. While bowling allies also spray their shoes with chemical disinfectant sprays there are times when the practice is not enough to kill all the bacteria. Be aware that many children cannot tolerate the severe chemical disinfectant sprays and may have strong allergic reactions including swelling at the sight of contact with the spray, hives, itching, and sneezing.

Frequently the sprays are ineffective in irradiating the fungi. This is usually due to the lack of spray used, since chemical recipes are quite potent. While the spray is applied if the spray does not reach the toe of the shoe or the edge of the tongue the organisms will continue to live and eventually travel to other people.

Be sure you trust the places where you are borrowing or buying shoes. Most places are honorable in their intentions the frequent use of these shoes can create an unintentional danger. Even the bowling giant Brunswick on their web site says Bowling Shoes “If only everything returns the investment as fast and as many times over”. The contact between these shoes and multiple people is apparent and though it is great for social interaction, bacterial interaction is unwanted.

Do not try on any shoes that have an odor! Odors typically indicate the presence of infectious material.

If you find that perfect pair of shoes at a store that has questionable cleanliness and you must have them anyways disinfect the shoes before wearing them. A milder alternative to the disinfectants would be the coating of the shoe with rubbing alcohol which also kills the organisms.  You could also try placing the shoes in an air tight bag and freezing them overnight. The lack of warmth and air will help to kill the dermatophytes. Using home disinfectant sprays can also be extremely effective as long as all parts of the surface are reached and no allergic reactions to the disinfectant occur.

Save yourself the trouble by preventing foot fungi.

If you or someone in your family has contracted a fungus like these from someone else it is important to seek medical attention to inhibit the spread of the fungus. It may have been contracted by the careless neglect of someone else for hygiene. The treatment of these fungi can be long and at times costly if you need help in dealing with this, and other unforeseen medical conditions please call us at (801)506-0800.

Image courtesy of Randen Pederson

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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