Dealing with athlete’s foot can be a real pain—literally. A fungal infection, athlete’s foot can cause burning and itchy skin, blisters and cracking. It is frequently accompanied by pain, swelling and secondary infections. Also known as “tinea pedis”, this ailment has caused problems for all kinds of people.
Is Athlete’s Foot Contagious?
Everyone who has athlete’s foot got it from someone else. It is transmitted wherever people walk barefoot. The fungal infection thrives in moist environments like locker rooms, hence the name. If you think you might have this condition, look for the following symptoms:
- Itchy, stinging and/or burning sensation between your toes
- Itchy, stinging and/or burning sensation on the soles of your feet
- Blisters that itch
- Cracked and peeling skin
- Extremely dry skin, especially on the sides or bottom of your feet
- Ragged or crumbly looking toenails, which may indicate a secondary fungal infection of the nail known as onychomycosis
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by dermatophytes, which are a type of mold-like fungi that live naturally on your skin. The problem arises when this fungus grows out of control in warm, moist environments, like inside your shoes. Skin that is clean and dry is much less susceptible to athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot can happen to anyone, but it is most likely to occur if you:
- Are a male
- Often wear tight fitting shoes and/or damp socks
- Are exposed to someone who has athlete’s foot, through mats, rugs, bedding, clothing or shoes
- Walk barefoot in public places like saunas, swimming pools, public showers, and locker rooms.
- Have any type of immune system disorder
How Do I Get Rid of This Stuff?
Sometimes, you can get rid of athlete’s foot by using over-the-counter antifungal products. These products contain miconazole, clotrimazole or tolnaftate. However, some cases are just too tough and do not clear up despite treatment with these products.
Other important techniques for getting rid of athlete’s foot include:
- Keeping your feet clean and dry.
- Washing your feet twice a day with a good soap.
- After washing your feet, dry them completely, especially between the toes.
Wearing clean cotton socks that you change frequently to keep your feet dry.
When Do I Need Help?
Athlete’s foot can be very tricky to get rid of. Sometimes it is mild and easy to treat. In other instances it can last a very long time, recurring like a bad dream. You should definitely seek medical attention if:
- Your athlete’s foot does not respond to your at-home care within a couple of weeks.
- Your foot becomes swollen and warm.
- Your foot swells, and you also see red streaks, a sign of a more serious infection.
- You develop a fever, pus and/or drainage at the site of the fungal infection.
- If you suffer from diabetes or other circulation-related disorders, go see a doctor at the first sign of athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is often considered a pesky, minor problem. However, it can cause not only discomfort, but potentially serious infections. At Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates, we want you to always put your best foot forward. Call us today to schedule your first appointment.