Work boots cannot directly cause you to develop athlete’s foot (unless you borrow someone else’s boots which you should never do).
But poorly made and poorly maintained work boots CAN make an infection much much worse.
This article will give you some general tips as to how to avoid the initial infection, and what boots to wear to prevent an infection from getting worse.
It will also give you some tips on how to treat the infection and what to do with your work boots should you be unlucky enough to contract athlete’s foot.
Keep reading to find out more, but first…
What causes athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection. Several different species of fungi come under the umbrella of ‘athlete’s foot’.
The infection is usually caused by your feet coming into contact with infected skin or coming into contact with surfaces exposed to the fungi.
Common places where you can get it include
- locker rooms
- swimming pools
- from borrowing other people’s work boots.
Basically, this fungus loves wet, humid and dark areas!
General tips for avoiding athlete’s foot
To avoid athlete’s foot, wash your feet daily (duh) using hot water and soap.
I know. It sounds dumb, but it’s that simple! And then make sure you dry your feet after washing them, especially the area between your toes.
Personally, I use a hairdryer to dry my feet after having a shower because using a towel it won’t get 100% dry.
It’s recommended to use a separate towel for your feet to the rest of your body. Finally, wear clean socks every day, and do not borrow other people’s socks or boots even if they appear clean.
It’s a common myth that wearing shoes or socks all day can prevent athlete’s foot.
In fact, keeping those feet inside your boots all day will make worse the warm damp conditions that the fungus thrives in.
How to prevent athlete’s foot from developing in your footwear?
The fungi thrive in warm damp conditions, and they also thrive when the toes are pressed close together. This means there are several footwear choices you can make to prevent an athlete’s foot infection from developing into a serious problem.
Your choice of socks matter in preventing athlete’s foot. Wearing synthetic fibres is the best material choice as it keeps moisture away from the feet.
A lot of websites will also recommend cotton socks, and these are good because they are breathable, ensuring your feet remain ventilated.
Make sure that you change your socks at least daily, maybe going through two pairs a day if you are working particularly hard. Allowing your feet to remain in sweaty socks can aid fungal development.
But now onto work boots.
Depending on safety regulations at your workplace, wear a light breathable design of work boots made of leather or canvas material. This’ll ensure that your feet are aerated and do not get too warm while you are working.
It may also be smart to have two pairs of boots and alternate between pairs every day so that no one pair becomes too damp and sweaty from overuse.
Finally, as already mentioned, athlete’s foot thrives when your toes are pressed close together. So, make sure you are wearing boots that fit you properly and wear boots of a flexible enough material that they bend to the contours of your feet.
Do you need to throw away your work boots if you have athlete’s foot?
No, you can keep your work boots if you have contracted athlete’s foot.
But it is important to thoroughly clean the interior of your boots before wearing the same pair of work boots again. Here’s a very good article about how to clean your work boots at home.
Untreated, traces of the fungi can survive in your work boots for months.
You can remove the fungi from your boots by spraying the interior with an anti-bacterial spray, making sure you reach the toes and heels.
Also, you can apply the spray or cream to newspaper and leave it on the interior of your boots for 24 hours and this should also do the trick.
If your infected boots were already falling apart prior to infection, then it may be time to replace the boots anyway.
Is it hard to get rid of athlete’s foot?
It’s not easy for sure. Even with these treatments, athlete’s foot may take a while to remove, potentially several weeks.
And if treatments from a pharmacy do not work, or if the infection is causing a serious amount of discomfort then you should seek professional medical help.
There are plenty of remedies for athlete’s foot, from sprays to anti-fungal creams. Apply these to your feet and to the interior of your work boots, being sure to follow the instructions provided with the treatment.
Basic hygiene remains important for treatment as well as prevention. Wash your feet daily, or more often, using hot water and soap.
And apply the sprays to your work boots after you are wearing them to keep them disinfected. It would, after all, be terrible to disinfect your feet only to re-catch the disease from your own boots.
Does hand sanitizer kill athletes’ foot?
Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser works primarily against bacteria.
Fungi and bacteria are not the same thing.
While alcoholic hand sanitizer will have an impact, it’s not going to complete the job. It’s worth investing in sprays or creams to properly treat the disease.
Let’s wrap it up
In conclusion, work boots, generally speaking won’t be the reason of your feet getting infected with athelte’s foot.
But in many jobs, like in construction for example where many times you’ll work in mud and wet areas, the chances of athlete’s foot developing into your work boots are higher.
Because that’s what this fungus loves. Dark and humid areas.
So keep these things in mind if you want to avoid living with atheltes foot in your boots:
- DRY your work boots every day if you’ve been working in the snow, rain, or wet areas.
- Try to have 2 separate work boots so you can alternate them
- Change your socks, even at work, if your feet sweat or get wet
- Change your insoles or wash them very often
- Use anti-fungal sprays to prevent the appearance of the fungus in your work boots
Extra resources for more information related to athlete’s foot
Team Members Working On This Page
Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!
I’m an MA student currently working on a research project for King’s College London Museum of Life Sciences alongside my MA dissertation. I have been published in my student newspaper, The Spectator, and the Adam Smith Institute. I’m doing part of the research and writing of the content you’ll read on BestForMyFeet.com Enjoy!