Tinea pedis, or more commonly known as athlete's foot, is a fungal infection that affects the skin of the feet. It often starts as an itchy scaly rash between the toes or on the soles of the feet. This itching may be accompanied by stinging and burning, and if left untreated, can cause cracks and blisters to form on the skin, leading to a potential bacterial infection.
Causes of Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot typically occurs because of the same fungus that causes ringworm and jock itch. This type of fungus thrives in a warm moist environment where they are able to multiply and spread quickly. Damp areas such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms make the perfect breeding ground for the fungus, and athletes who frequently use these facilities and have sweaty feet are the most commonly affected, hence the term athlete's foot.
Certain factors increase your risk of contracting athlete's foot:
- Having sweaty feet
- Having a skin damage on the feet
- Having a weakened immune system
- Walking barefoot in damp public spaces
- Wearing tight closed-in shoes frequently
Athlete's Foot Can Easily Spread
Athlete's foot is a highly contagious condition that is easily spread from one person to another. You do not have to be an athlete or a regular at your local gym to contract athlete's foot. Standing barefoot in the shower when somebody else in your home is infected, and sharing towels, sheets, socks, and shoes with someone who has athlete's foot can spread the infection.
Athlete's foot can also spread to other parts of the body. The infection may spread to your hand if you are constantly scratching at the infected area, and to other parts as well, if you touch them after touching your feet. If you are using one towel to dry off your feet and body after bathing or swimming, you may develop athlete's foot in the groin area – in that case, it is called jock itch.
Treatment of Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot treatment requires the use of an antifungal medication. If treated early, over-the-counter remedies like creams, sprays, or powder can help clear up athlete's foot in as fast as two weeks.
During the treatment period, it is necessary to keep the feet clean and dry at all times, especially on the areas between the toes. Additionally, it is advised to air out the feet as much as possible and try not to scratch the rash. Disinfecting all socks, towels, sheets and any other items that may have come into contact with the affected foot is also essential to stop the spread of the infection.
When To See A Doctor
This condition is relatively harmless, however, in some cases, athlete's foot may become severe and unresponsive to home treatment. If your athlete's foot has not improved in two weeks, a physician can help by prescribing stronger oral or topical medications.
It is important to treat athlete's foot effectively because we do not want any additional infections. If your athlete's foot become infected with bacteria, your foot may become swollen, and you may develop blisters and even open sores. If you are diabetic, athlete's foot may become a more serious skin problem, and for that reason, you should take immediate action.
Prevention of Athlete's Foot
Simple habits can help prevent athlete's foot; these include:
- Keeping the feet clean and dry by washing them daily and drying them thoroughly
- Changing socks regularly, especially if the feet get sweaty
- Using a powder on the feet to help reduce sweating
- Alternating the shoes you wear to allow them to fully dry
- Avoid sharing socks, towels, and shoes with other people
- Wearing flip-flops when walking into damp public spaces
- Wearing breathable shoes to remove excess moisture from the skin
Athlete's foot is a painful condition that many people suffer from. Fortunately, our podiatrist specializes in the treatment of athlete's foot and can provide the most effective treatment choices. Consult our podiatrist at DeNiel Foot and Ankle Center if you have any questions concerning athlete's foot. Our doctor will evaluate your situation and give you high quality care.