What is Athlete’s Foot?
Simply put, athlete’s foot is a rash on the skin on the foot. It is actually one of the most common fungal skin infections. It affects the sole of the foot and the areas in between the toes. Athlete’s foot is related to other types of fungal infections like ringworm.
What causes Athlete’s Foot?
A fungus that grows on the top layer of skin is the cause of athlete’s foot. This fungus grows well in wet, warm places like the area between your toes. This skin problem spreads extremely easily. You can get it by touching the toes or feet of an infected person. Walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces near pools, or in locker rooms is a common way to contract this fungal infection. Once you pick it up walking barefoot, the fungi then continue to grow inside your shoes. This happens especially if air can’t move around your feet because your footwear is tight.
Not everyone who comes into contact with a fungus that causes Athlete’s foot will develop the infection. Some people are more likely to suffer from the infection than others. However, if you have already had athlete’s foot it is more likely to reoccur.
How do I know if I Have Athlete’s Foot?
The most common symptoms of this fungal infection are burning and itching. Your skin could also peel and crack. There are three types of athlete’s foot:
- Interdigital – This infection occurs between the last two toes. The skin will scale, peel and crack. In addition to the fungal infection, some may also have a bacterial infection, which causes the skin to break down more.
- Moccasin – Soreness on your foot is the first indication of this type of athlete’s foot. Your skin on the bottom of the heel can then become very thick and start to crack. In more severe cases, the toenails can even become infected. The nails will begin to crumble, thicken and possibly fall out. If your toenails become infected, they will need a separate treatment.
- Vesicular – A sudden outbreak of blisters filled with fluid is the first symptom of this type of athlete’s foot. The blisters most commonly occur on the bottom of the foot, but can appear anywhere. Bacterial infections may also be present.
How is Athlete’s Foot Treated?
Many times athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter lotions, sprays or creams at home. In severe cases, your podiatrist may prescribe pills or creams to directly apply to the skin. It’s very important to use these prescriptions for as long as it is prescribed, so that the infection goes away completely. Also, keep your feet clean and dry to deter any more fungi from growing.
Can I Prevent Athlete’s Foot?
There are many ways you can prevent this unfriendly fungus:
- Keep your feet dry and clean
- Always dry in between your toes after bathing or swimming
- Purchase footwear that allows your feet to breathe
- Wear socks while indoors
- Change your socks twice a day
- Use anti fungal or talcum powder
- Air out your shoes for no less than 24 hours before you wear them again