An athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin on your feet, particularly between your toes. It might spread to other sections of the body if left untreated. This fungus thrives during the summer or spring, when the shoes’ feet become warm and sweaty, creating an ideal environment for fungal growth.
Although this condition is not life-threatening, it can be aggravating if not treated properly. Treatment should be your top priority, especially if you are pregnant, have a weak immune system, or have diabetes.
Overview Athlete’s Foot
An athlete’s foot, medically referred to as tinea pedis, is an infectious fungal infection that typically affects the skin of the feet. This condition is sometimes known as “foot ringworm.” It typically begins between the toes and rapidly spreads to the toes, soles, heels, and hands. Athletes are more likely to get athlete’s foot.
While an athlete’s foot is not a serious condition, it can be difficult to treat. This infection results in cracked, odorous, and scaly skin. You might even get blisters. It prefers warm, moist environments and will only infect the skin if the conditions are ideal. As a result, less than 1% of people who regularly go barefoot get athlete’s foot. Having said that, roughly 70% of people will develop tinea pedis at some point in their lives.
Athletes’ foot resembles other fungal skin infections. Similar infectious diseases include jock itch and ringworm. Trichophyton, the fungus that causes it, is commonly found in clothing and floors. The same fungus causes hair follicles, nails, and superficial skin infections such as jock itch.
Tinea pedis is a chronic infection that recurs frequently and can be spread through direct contact with infected skin. A proper hygiene routine, on the other hand, may help prevent or control an athlete’s foot. Although antifungal medications can treat an athlete’s foot, the infection frequently recurs.
How Does an Athlete’s Foot Infection Look?
This fungal skin infection can affect the skin on your feet, between your toes, along the edges of your feet, on the tops of your feet, and on your heels. It makes the skin scaly, flaky and irritated.
What Causes an Athlete’s Foot?
Anyone can get an athlete’s foot. Certain behaviors can raise your chances of getting an athlete’s foot. Among these risk factors are:
Visiting public areas barefoot, especially public showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools
Wearing sweaty shoes
Wearing tight, closed shoes
Sharing towels, shoes, and socks with an infected person
Having sweaty feet
Having a relatively minor skin or nail injury
Keeping your feet wet for long periods
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
The most common athlete’s foot symptoms include the following:
- Burning, stinging, and itchy skin on the soles of your feet or between your toes
- Raw skin on your feet
- Itchy blisters
- Thick, crumbly, and discolored toenails
- Cracking and peeling skin on your feet
- The sides or soles of your feet have dry skin
- Inflamed skin that appears grayish, purplish, or reddish, depending on your skin tone
There may be oozing blisters, swelling, and bacterial infections at times. When your condition is severe and causes open sores, you are more vulnerable to bacterial infection. If the infection is not treated, it can spread from toe to toe. A rash on the bottom and sides of your feet is also possible. If you do not wash your hands immediately after touching infected feet, the condition may spread to your hands.
If you scratch the infected area and then touch another part of your body, the infection can spread. As a result, it is critical to treat the symptoms as soon as they appear and to thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap after touching the affected area.
How to Diagnose an Athlete’s Foot
In some cases, a healthcare professional is required to diagnose your athlete’s foot. An athlete’s foot can be diagnosed by your doctor based on the symptoms. If your doctor is unsure whether a fungal infection is causing your problem, he or she may order a skin test. The potassium hydroxide test is the most commonly used to diagnose an athlete’s foot.
Doctors remove affected skin tissue and immerse it in potassium hydroxide. This inorganic compound kills healthy cells while leaving fungal cells alone, making them easy to identify under a microscope.
How to Treat an Athlete’s Foot
Most symptoms are minor, and you should not visit a doctor. To treat your athlete’s foot, you can visit a pharmacy and purchase over-the-counter medications. Doctors may prescribe a stronger antifungal medication to kill the fungus in more serious infections.
- Antifungal powder
- Topical creams
Most topical medications are available without a prescription. If the topical medications do not work or if your condition is severe, your doctor may prescribe oral antifungal medications.
Some antifungals may be unsafe for young children and the elderly. To determine the proper medication and dosage for such patients, it is best to consult a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse.
When to See a Doctor About Your Athlete’s Foot
Consult a doctor if a rash does not disappear after two weeks of using an over-the-counter antifungal product. Diabetics should also see a doctor if they suspect they have an athlete’s foot. Those who have symptoms of an infection, such as swelling, fever, or pus, should also see a doctor.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
- Wear sandals when possible. Wearing flip-flops will help your feet get enough air to lower their skin’s temperature and dry their sweat.
- Wear socks made of natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk, and wool. These fabrics are breathable and feel cooler and more comfortable in the summer.
- Wash your feet to lower the risk of fungal infections.
- Avoid environments where athlete’s foot thrives, such as locker room floors and public showers.
- Keep your feet clean, dry, and well-ventilated.
- Remove your shoes and wash your feet using antibacterial soap after exercising to kill bacteria on your skin.
- But high-quality shoes. Do not wear shoes made of plastic because they typically heat up faster than their canvas and leather counterparts.
- Do not share shoes or socks.
Keep Your Feet Healthy and Pain-Free
If you suspect that you have foot fungus or any other foot problem, visit Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute at our offices in American Folk or Saratoga Springs, UT. We offer exceptional, individualized care to help our patients get back on their feet. Call 801-756-4200 to request an appointment today.