Athlete’s foot is a skin disease caused by a fungal infection, usually occurring between the toes, but can occur on the bottom of the foot in the arch, and sometimes on the sides or top.
The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are also breeding grounds for fungus. Because the infection was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently, the term “athlete’s foot” became popular.
Not all fungus conditions are athlete’s foot. Other conditions, such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema, and psoriasis, may mimic athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s Foot Symptoms
The signs of athlete’s foot, singly or combined, are dry skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blisters. Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads.
Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere. The organisms causing athlete’s foot may persist for long periods. Consequently, the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing to other parts of the body.
Athlete’s Foot Prevention
It is not easy to prevent athlete’s foot because it is usually contracted in dressing rooms, showers, and swimming pool locker rooms where bare feet come in contact with the fungus. However, you can do much to prevent infection by practicing good foot hygiene. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water; drying carefully, especially between the toes; and changing shoes and socks regularly to decrease moisture. This will help prevent the fungus from infecting the feet. Also, helpful is daily use of a quality foot powder when the infection has been or might be present.
Athlete’s Foot Tips
- Avoid walking barefoot; use shower shoes.
- Reduce perspiration by using talcum powder.
- Wear light and airy shoes.
- Wear socks that keep your feet dry, and change them frequently if you perspire heavily.
Athlete’s Foot Treatment
Topical or oral antifungal drugs are prescribed if over the counter therapies fail. In mild cases of the infection, it is important to keep the feet dry by dusting foot powder in shoes and hose. The feet should be bathed frequently and all areas around the toes dried thoroughly.
If an apparent fungus condition does not respond to proper foot hygiene and self care, and there is no improvement within 7 days, call us. We will determine if a fungus is the cause of the problem. If it is, a specific treatment plan, including the prescription of antifungal medication, applied topically or taken by mouth, may be suggested. A biopsy of the area may be needed in some cases to determine if a fungal infection is present.
If the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics, such as penicillin, that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria may be prescribed.