What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection on the bottom of the feet and between the toes. It affects the outer layer of the foot and can get very itchy and frustrating. It is easily spread through sharing surfaces with those that have the infection. It is medically referred to as tinea pedis which translates to ‘ringworm of the foot’ and gets the name ‘Athlete’s Foot’ because of its high prevalence among athletes that share showers and changing rooms.
What causes Athlete’s Foot?
A fungus (called Trichophyton) is the cause of Athlete’s Foot and is contracted through direct contact with the fungus. When the fungus is paired with warm and damp conditions, it can quickly grow and spread over the bottom of the foot. This is why the athlete’s foot is often contracted from and thrives in showers, changing rooms and closed-in shoes.
Be careful, your toenails are also vulnerable to fungal nail infections, though this is by a different fungus strain. These are often difficult to treat, even in drier and cooler conditions.
What are the symptoms?
If you have contracted Athlete’s Foot, you may experience:
- Red, scaly patches on the skin
- A dry appearance that looks like bubbles or small blisters on the skin
- Stinging or burning
- Breakdown of the skin between the toes that may cause cracks or fissures
The first step in managing and eliminating Athlete’s Foot is to have a correct diagnosis from your Podiatrist. Once you’re sure it’s fungal, start by doing as much as you can to keep the feet dry, clean, and away from sources of infection. These typically include:
- Thoroughly drying your feet with a towel after showering or getting wet
- Using absorbent powders if your feet sweat excessively
- Disinfecting infected shoes and socks to demote reinfection
- Wearing absorbent socks that will promote a dry environment
- Wearing open shoes where possible to let the feet air and dry
To treat the fungus directly, we will recommend the right anti-fungal product for you to use. It’s usually in the form of a spray, powder or cream. We will also identify the other factors that are contributing to the persistence of the infection and teach you how to overcome these. This is important because we don’t want just to treat your existing infection, but also prevent you from getting infections in the future.
If the infection has spread to your toenails, we’ll need to treat the nails too. This can often be significantly more difficult than treating the skin alone as the fungus can penetrate the nail bed.
Will the infection come back?
Because fungus spreads so easily, care must be taken to avoid re-infection. Re-infection doesn’t have to come from another person, but can occur from continuing to wear your own infected shoes and socks.
We’ll explain the best ways to minimise your risk of future infections to keep the fungus gone. This can include anything from scrubbing down your showers with appropriate antifungal agents to hot washing all of your socks, bath mats and shoe liners with antifungal washing detergent.
If you have any questions about fungal infections and how we can help you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team on 07 4162 7633.