Athlete's Foot During Pregnancy: Causes And Home Remedies

✔ Research-backed

It is not recommended to treat an Athlete’s foot during pregnancy with over-the-counter antifungals creams since many of these medicines are not safe for pregnancy. You must have forgotten to keep up with your beauty regimen and even avoided pedicures in pregnancy. But sweaty feet should not be ignored as the symptom could increase the risk of developing fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot. Hence, keeping your feet dry and clean can help prevent infections. Keep reading as we tell you the causes and treatment of an Athlete’s foot in pregnancy.

In This Article

What Is An Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot can cause hard and white patches

Image: Shutterstock

Athlete’s foot, also known as Tinea pedis and Ringworm of the foot, is a dermatophyte infection. It occurs due to poor foot hygiene. Parasitic fungi can thrive well in moist, dark and warm environments.

Some of the typical symptoms of the infectious disease are:

  • BlistersiFluid-containing circular pockets that form on the skin as a result of burning, or other medical reasons
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Scaling (Rough, hard and white patches appearing on the feet)
  • Painful inflammation

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Redness, itchiness, burning or stinging pain, and oozing and crusting of the blisters may be some other symptoms of an athlete’s foot (3).

Causes Of Athlete’s Foot During Pregnancy

Some common causes of Athlete’s foot while you are pregnant, include:

1. Improper Feet Hygiene:

  • During pregnancy, it becomes difficult for you to bend down to wash and scrub your feet due to abdominal distentioniBloating and abnormal expansion of the abdomen due to the accumulation of gas or fluid .
  • It can significantly increase the impact of fungal sporesiReproductive units produced by certain fungi, bacteria, and non-flowering plants and sweat between the digit of your feet, and you are at a higher risk of developing Athlete’s foot.

2. Hormonal Changes:

  • You may tend to sweat profusely due to the hormonal imbalance closely associated with pregnancy.
  • Throughout the gestation period, it’s common for your feet to retain moisture, which can create an optimal environment for the growth of fungus.

3. Staying Barefoot:

Going to the damp loo barefoot may increase the risk of Athlete’s foot

Image: IStock

  • If you often go to the damp loo barefoot, your risk of suffering from Athlete’s foot is higher.
  • It is advisable to wear clean sandals and pat your wet feet dry with a soft towel. This may prevent the growth of toe fungus.

4. Skin To Skin Contact:

  • As the germ happens to be contagious, having a skin to skin contact with an infected person can elevate your risk of developing Athlete’s foot.
  • For such reasons, you need to wash your feet immediately after having a skin to skin contact with an infected person.
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Obesity, gestational diabetesiA temporary state of elevated blood sugar levels occurring during pregnancy , a weak immune system, and wet feet put you at a higher risk of developing athlete’s foot during pregnancy (3) (4).

Treating Athlete’s Foot During Pregnancy

You should never use regular antifungal medications for treating Athlete’s foot in pregnancy. As these drugs can be detrimental to the health of your unborn baby. If your doctor allows it, or the rash turns aggressive, you can use basic home remedies and over-the-counter aids. OTC medications for athlete’s foot treatment during pregnancy can lead to many side effects.

Note:

Please note that some of the OTC fungal sprays for Athlete’s foot contain harsh chemicals that can harm breastfeeding and pregnant women. Hence, you need to acquire requisite medical assistance (1).

Preventing Athlete’s Foot During Pregnancy

Wash your feet after using the toilet or the locker room

Image: IStock

Here are some helpful tips that may help you avoid the fungal infection during pregnancy:

  • Wash your feet, whenever they come in contact with common surfaces like the ladies toilet or the locker room.
  • The foot fungus readily thrives in damp and humid climate. You need to maintain dryness of your feet and turn it inhospitable for the fungus to survive.
  • To maintain dryness of your feet and wear well-ventilated socks and shoes. You can wear items made out of breathable materials like wool, cotton and leather.
  • Wear sandals, as they allow proper air circulation around your feet and keep them dry for a longer time span.
  • Keep changing your regular-wear socks every day and try to wash them in lukewarm soapy water (2).

Dr. Alan Lindemann, MD, an obstetrician, maternal mortality expert, and former clinical associate professor at the University of North Dakota, says, “Washing with soap and water doesn’t completely destroy fungi. I recommend new socks when you start treating your athlete’s foot and then new socks again once the condition has resolved. Do not reuse your old socks and shoes.”

Wash and change your socks every day

Image: IStock

Home Remedies For Athlete’s Foot During Pregnancy

The most recommended way of treating an Athlete’s feet during pregnancy is through the usage of safe, home-based, natural cures.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar Solution:

Soak your feet in a solution of apple cider vinegar and water

Image: IStock

  • Herbal foot soaks made using one cup of apple cider vinegar and two cups of water help in alleviating the fungal infection.
  • You can soak your itchy feet for about 15-30 minutes in the acidic solution.
  • The solution reduces the dryness and flakiness of your skin.

Dr. Lindemann recommends, “The most common household agent is vinegar, which is very effective against athlete’s foot or other presentations for fungus. In general, fungi are difficult to destroy. If you use vinegar, I would recommend one of two choices. Either apply it twice a day or soak the webs of your toes with vinegar for ten minutes, which would require four to six ounces of vinegar once or twice daily for ten days. You may repeat this as often as needed. Vinegar in most countries is available at the grocery store, is effective, safe, and cheap.”

2. Essential Oils:

  • Adding herbal oils like tea tree oil to your foot soaks disinfects your skin.
  • The soothing effect of the essential oils helps in reducing stress during pregnancy, especially when you suffer from mood swings, headaches and abdominal cramping.
  • Foot baths infused with potent essential oils like Neem oil and lavender oil serves as an excellent way of reducing the irritation caused by athlete’s foot and maintains foot health.
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Bitter orange oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oils are some other essential oils that help manage the symptoms of an athlete’s foot. However, during pregnancy, all herbal remedies should be tried only with a doctor’s consent (4).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use Canesten for an athlete’s foot when pregnant?

Yes. Clotrimazole sold under the brand name Canesten may be used topically for an athlete’s foot during pregnancy. However, it must be used only under medical guidance to avert any risks posed to maternal health (3).

2. Can an athlete’s foot go away on its own?

No. It is unlikely that an athlete’s foot will self-resolve. It should be treated with medicines as directed by a doctor specialized in podiatry (4).

Improper foot hygiene, hormonal changes, or staying barefoot, especially in damp areas, are common causes of an athlete’s foot during pregnancy. Seek medical guidance if you develop an athlete’s foot. Do not use over-the-counter antifungal medicines as they can adversely affect your baby. After consulting your doctor, you can try simple home remedies, such as applying essential oils and apple cider vinegar solution to the affected area. Washing feet when they come in contact with common surfaces, keeping feet dry, and wearing well-ventilated socks and sandals or shoes are a few ways to prevent an athlete’s foot.

Infographic: What Happens If An Athlete’s Foot Is Left Untreated?

Athlete’s foot or tinea pedis usually cures with simple care measures and antifungal medications. It is possible to develop complications if it is left unmanaged in people with low immunity. Pregnancy reduces immunity, so expecting mothers should pay attention to preventing and controlling fungal infections of the foot. Go through the infographic to learn more about the possible complications of unmanaged fungal infection of the foot.

athletes foot in children (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the foot characterized by redness, itching, scaling and burning.
  • Causes of athlete’s foot during pregnancy include skin-to-skin contact, being barefoot, poor hygiene, and hormonal changes.
  • Store-bought antifungal creams and sprays should be avoided as they are not safe for use while pregnant.
  • Home remedies such as keeping feet clean and dry, wearing well-ventilated shoes, and using vinegar and tea tree oil may help curb the problem.
  • However, it is always best to consult a doctor before using any remedies, especially during pregnancy.
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An athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection caused due to various reasons. This video gives valuable insights into the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment.

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Athlete’s foot: Causes prevention and treatment—The FamilyHealth Guide.
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/athletes-foot-causes-prevention-and-treatment
  2. Athlete’s foot.
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000875.htm
  3. Brand name: Canesten Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal ™;
    https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/medicines/brand/amt,25741000168109/canesten-clotrimazole-anti-fungal#pregnancy
  4. Athlete’s foot;
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/#:~:text=Athlete%27s%20foot%20is%20unlikely%20to,creams
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Dr. Michael Tahery is an American board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist practicing in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He graduated in ob/gyn from the University of New York and Advanced Pelvic Surgery and Urogynecology from The Mayo Clinic.    Dr. Tahery is a member of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, American Urogynecology Society, and American Urology Association. Before...read full bio