My Partner Had Athlete’s Foot and It Wouldn’t Go Away

Athlete’s Foot

(One of our team here at The Podiatrist bravely shares her experience!)

Athlete’s foot (clinically known as tinea pedis) is an unpleasant fungal infection of the feet. Areas between the toes often get red, itchy, scaly or cracked. Other areas like the heels or balls of the feet can be dry and itchy. Blisters and bubbles can appear and the feet can feel tender. 

I know this because my partner had athlete’s foot when we began dating. I only noticed as he applied a cream he got from the chemist to his feet and between the toes most nights before bed. I asked him about it and he confirmed the above symptoms, though his feet didn’t seem to get tender and only occasionally itchy. I asked him how long he’d be applying the cream for and he said months, so clearly something wasn’t working. 

Now just to clarify: Fungal skin infections are contagious. Yep, if your partner has it and you share surfaces like showers, socks, and floors then there’s a significant chance that you’ll pick up his fungus too. That’s where I drew the line. I’ll pick up dinner, I’ll even pick his clothes up off the ground but I wouldn’t pick up his fungus. 

So I made some observations about what I thought could be hindering his treatment:

  • He didn’t take any effort to dry his feet and in between his toes properly after showering apart from the usual standing on a bath mat
  • He took 1-2 showers per day as he cycled to work and would always shower on arrival to work
  • His socks were warm and thick (great for borrowing in the winter) but not breathable
  • He wore closed in shoes for work all day and anytime he went out in the evenings
  • He was very active and so his feet must’ve regularly been sweaty as a result

All of the above pretty much sums up the ideal growing conditions for fungus: dark, closed in, moist and warm environments. So despite using the cream, he wasn’t helping himself any further than that. So we changed things up. I got him to:

  • thoroughly dry his feet, especially between his toes, after every shower
  • got him some dry-max socks (cotton works just fine)
  • got him some anti-fungal spray for his shoes (it’s just like an air freshener but an anti fungal and you spray it directly into the shoe)
  • encouraged him to air his feet more
  • got him to super hot wash his socks and bed sheets (this is to minimise my risk of picking it up)
  • ensured he used his anti fungal at least once a day, every single day

I’m pleased to say that a couple of weeks he was fungus-free and I hadn’t contracted it in the process. Yay! 

 If you’re struggling with a fungal skin infection or what you think may be one, I’d start by checking with your podiatrist. This is as bacterial infections often occur alongside fungal skin infections. You’ll notice as your feet will have much more of a smell than just a fungal infection alone which often doesn’t have an odour. In this case the management approaches are a bit different. Your podiatrist will talk you through it and what is best for you

Finally, if your partner is battling with athlete’s foot – he is still perfect. He’s likely just a bit more active and used a public shower and then kept his feet in closed in shoes while his socks are sweaty

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