What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a skin infection of the foot caused by a fungus. The fungus that causes this disease is called Trichophyton. When the feet stay moist, warm and irritated, this fungus can thrive and infect the upper layer of the skin. Athlete’s foot is caused by the ringworm fungus “tinea.” It is easily spread (contagious) – you can get it by touching the affected area of a person who has it. More commonly, you can pick up the fungi by going barefoot in shared areas, such as swimming pools or locker rooms. The fungus can be spread from person to person by contact With these objects. The fungi then grow in the warm and moist environment of your footwear. If you come in contact with the fungi that causes athlete’s foot, you can spread the fungi to others, whether you develop the infection or not.
Types Of Athletes Foot
There are three main types of athlete’s foot. Each type affects different parts of the foot, looks different, and may be treated differently. While some people who have athlete’s foot do not notice it, others develop severe symptoms. Athlete’s foot symptoms can vary greatly depending on the type of athlete’s foot you have.
- A toe web infection (interdigital) usually occurs between the fourth and ﬁfth toes.
- The skin becomes scaly, peels, and cracks.
- If the infection becomes severe, hacteria are usually present, which cause further skin breakdown (maceration).
- A moccasin-type infection may begin with minor irritation.
- Progresses to thickened, cracked skin on the sole or heel.
- In severe cases, the toenails become infected and can thicken, crumble, and even fall out.
- Vesicular infection (blisters) usually begins with a sudden outbreak of large ﬂuid-ﬁlled areas under the skin.
- The blisters most often develop on the skin of the instep.
- May also develop between the toes, on the heel, or on the sole or top of the foot.
- This type may also be accompanied by a bacterial infection.
Symptoms of Athlete’s foot
The most common symptoms of Athlete’s are following:
- It include itching and burning feet.
- The skin frequently peels and, in particularly severe cases.
- May be some cracking, pain and bleeding as well.
- When the skin is injured by the fungus, bacteria can also invade the skin.
- These bacteria can cause a bad smell.
- Bacterial infection of the skin and resulting inﬂammation is known as cellulitis.
- This is especially likely to occur in the elderly, individuals with diabetes, chronic leg swelling, or who have had veins removed, and patients with impaired immune systems.
Athlete’s Foot Treatment
The podiatrists at Foot Centers of NC are highly trained in the treatment of Athlete’s foot and treat numerous cases each year. The treatment of Athlete’s foot can be divided into two parts.
- The ﬁrst, and most important part is to make the infected area less suitable for the Athlete’s foot fungus to grow.
- This means keeping the area clean and dry.
- Buy shoes that are leather or other breathable material.
- Shoe materials such as vinyl, that don’t breathe cause your feet to remain moist, providing an excellent area for the fungus to breed.
- You should also wear absorbent socks that wick water away from your feet such as those made from cotton.
- Medicated powders such as those with miconazole or tolnaftate can also help keep your feet dry.
- The second part of treatment is medication.
- Your podiatrist may prescribe a topical antifungal medication that is applied to the affected area over a period of time.
- For severe Athlete’s foot infections, it may be necessary to treat the condition from the inside out.
- In this case your podiatrist may prescribe Lamisil®, an oral medication which attacks the infection from inside the body where it lives and grows.
After several weeks of taking this medica- tion, you will begin to have healthy feet again. Be sure to use all antiﬁlngal medication for the indicated length of time, because athlete’s foot can be difﬁcult to kill. Remember, prevention is also an important part of treatment. Preventative steps include wearing shoes to allow your feet to breathe, wearing sandals in shared areas such as shower stalls, and keeping your feet dry. Follow your podiatrist’s instructions and plan of treatment to rid yourself of this unwanted infection.