Do you have itchy, red or scaly feet? It could be Athletes Foot!Jul 19, 2022
What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s Foot is also called tinea pedis. It is a fungal infection of the skin that generally starts between your toes but can occur anywhere on the foot. It can also develop alongside fungal nail infections. The term athlete’s foot is a misleading term, as the condition doesn't just show in athletes.
How Is It Caused?
Damp socks or shoes alongside warm, humid conditions promote its development due to excessive moisture. Tighter shoes cause friction between the toes, which can cause a break in the skin, where the fungus enters and spreads.
Athlete's foot is contagious. It can spread by skin contact with someone with the infection, or from contaminated surfaces and items, such as towels, footwear and floors. If left untreated, the fungus can spread to other parts of the body.
What Are The Symptoms?
Athlete's foot symptoms vary from person to person. Some people have severe irritation, others have few or no symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- Peeling, cracking, flaking, scaling of the feet
- Softening and breaking down of the skin, which is white in colour and occurs between the toes
Secondary bacterial infections may develop due to irritation, particularly if you scratch the area.
Athlete’s foot infections can be mild or severe. Some clear up quickly, and others last a long time. Athlete’s foot infections generally respond well to antifungal treatment. However, sometimes fungal infections are difficult to eliminate. Long-term treatment with antifungal medications may be necessary to keep athlete’s foot infections from returning.
Athlete’s foot can lead to complications in some cases. . It’s also possible for the fungal infection to return after treatment.
There can be more severe complications if a secondary bacterial infection develops. In this case, your foot might be swollen, painful, and hot. Pus and fever are additional signs of a bacterial infection.
How To Prevent It
- Wash your hands and feet regularly, especially after touching an infected area.
- Dry well between the toes.
- Do not put moisturiser/emollient between the toes
- Attend a podiatry appointment for routine footcare and advice, particularly if you have diabetes.
- Be cautious about pedicurists - they are usually not healthcare professionals. If instruments are not sterilised, infections can spread.
- Choose breathable footwear.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks such as sports or bamboo socks or change your socks throughout the day.
- Do not share towels, mats or footwear.
- Treat shoes with antifungal sprays or powder and allow to dry for 24 hours.
- Wear footwear e.g. flip flops when in communal areas e.g. swimming pools.
- Wash infected socks/hosiery and towels with a laundry disinfectant at a high temperature (taking care not to damage clothing). Temperatures above 60 degrees kills the fungal spores. Otherwise soak socks in boiling water and wash at normal temperature.
- If you have sweaty feet, use an antiperspirant and talcum powder.
- Ensure you store the OTC treatment appropriately and you use it within the expiry date.
At Foot corner our podiatrist can advise you on the best treatment options, depending on the severity of the condition and any medical conditions you may have. They can explain how to prevent infections, as athlete’s foot is very common and can reoccur.
It is important to see a podiatrist for a skin infection if you have diabetes, poor circulation, neuropathy (loss of sensation), psoriasis or a weakened immune system. They can distinguish between fungal and bacterial infections. This is important as antifungals will not resolve a case of cellulitis, where antibiotics are needed in a timely manner.
If you are worried about Athletes Foot, give us a call on 01784 250 781 and a member of the team will be happy to help.