Plantar Warts (Verruca Plantaris) and Athlete’s Foot (Trichophyton foot fungus) are two nasty buggers that arise from time to time on the floors of even the most luxurious salons, fitness centres and spas. Both can cause pain, itching, discomfort and embarrassment for their unwilling hosts, and can last quite a wide range of time, from a few days to months or even years when left untreated or improperly treated. Once clients become infected with these diseases, they can ruin the reputation of a business, especially in this day and age of word of mouth testimonials and online customer reviews. Even if your salon adheres to the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene, disinfecting your floors on a daily basis can be impossible and/or prove ineffective in preventing the spread of these two insidious bugs. Why jeopardise your business and risk law suits when a few easy steps can mean total protection, both for your clients and you, not to mention the ease of mind that will come in knowing that a relaxing day at the spa doesn’t have to turn into a nightmare for your guests.
First, if you’ve never heard of or had a case of Plantar Warts, consider yourself lucky! The warts, which are also considered benign epithelial tumours, are caused by a highly infectious form of the human papillomavirus that spreads easily on wet surfaces, such as the floors of lockerrooms, baths, showers, pool decks, spas, salons, hot tubs and other spaces with frequent water exposure and/or high foot traffic. It is estimated that up to ten percent of the general population is infected with the warts at any given time. Thanks to HPV’s high resilience and contagiousness, it can survive many months on a surface without the need for a host, making it a pesky challenge to conquer, especially in large salons or ones with intricate tilework that can prove hard (if not impossible) to clean.
These painful warts transfer under the skin surface through direct contact with microscopic cuts and abrasions, often invisible to the naked eye. They often take weeks or months to appear visibly, usually located on the bottom surface of feet, such on as the underside of the toe or sole. They can cause pain, itchiness and irritation, which is driven deeper and deeper into the foot due to the pressure exerted on the surface of the foot from walking. To cure the warts, one may apply adhesive such as duct tape to “suffocate” them, use various acids to remove the top layer of skin, or seek expensive laser treatments.
In severe cases, if left untreated, the warts can spread into groups called mosaic warts and become extremely painful, requiring surgical removal through liquid nitrogen application or cauterisation, and for the victim to be hospitalised! The side effects of this sort of treatment usually include scaring and sometimes trouble walking. Studies have shown that even in mild cases, the form of treatment does not make much of a difference in healing time. Therefore, the best cure is prevention, which according to Wikipedia,
Because plantar warts are spread by contact with moist walking surfaces, they can be prevented by not walking barefoot in public areas such as showers or communal changing rooms (wearing flip flops or sandals helps), not sharing shoes and socks, and avoiding direct contact with warts on other parts of the body or on other people. Humans build immunity with age, so infection is less common among adults than children.
The British National Health Service even recommends taking the following precautions:
- cover them with an adhesive bandage while swimming,
- wear flip-flops when using communal showers,
- and should not share towels.
Second, Athlete’s Foot constitutes another, often more common, but fortunately less severe problem for clients who frequent establishments with wet surfaces. Known as Ringworm of the foot, Athlete’s Foot is in fact a fungus that can cause scaling, flaking, dryness and itchiness in the infected area, again often the result of walking barefoot in moist or damp areas. It can also be transferred through the sharing of towels, shoes, socks or other footwear, especially if it has not been properly washed or disinfected between users. Though it generally affects the underside of feet, it can also spread all over the body, including to the person’s genitals. It is an opportunistic disease, meaning it can privilege the cross infection of other diseases, which then require oral antibiotics to resolve. Those with delicate immune systems may also experience the so-called “id reaction,” which manifests itself with blisters that cover the entire body. Pain, swelling, inflammation and scaring as a result of itching can also be counted among the possible symptoms.
Careful visual inspection of the skin will determine whether such an infection is Athlete’s Foot or a similar skin disease, such as eczema or psoriasis, and the appropriate course of treatment. Unlike with the infamous warts, Athlete’s Foot has several possible cures. First, because the fungi thrive in moist, warm areas, it is important to ensure the feet remain as dry and cool as possible. About a third of cases will solve themselves with the appropriate hygiene measures.
Topical treatments such as talcum powder and diaper rash ointments may also be applied to speed the recovery of mild cases. Pharmacies also offer a variety of medicated anti-fungal creams and oral medications for extreme cases, but again, physicians caution that most incidents will solve themselves with the appropriate hygiene measures taken. Natural treatments, such as Tea Tree Oil and Ajoene may also prove useful, but little research has been done in this area.
Regardless of the severity of Plantar Warts and Athlete’s Foot, the best treatment method is of course prevention. That’s why at Caractère, we make a variety of disposable slipper and sandal solutions to prevent the spread of infections on the floors of salons, saunas, showers, locker rooms, changing areas, baths, pools, hot tubs, spas, etc.
For perfect hygiene and the ultimate protection of your clientele (not to mention your business investment), try our disposable, recyclable solutions, and discover the reason why we’re the buzz of the most luxurious hotels of Paris, the world capital of luxury, fashion and design.