By Marieli A. Colon, DPM
Are your feet dry and scaly? Do your feet itch constantly? Do you have small blisters on the bottom of your feet? Are your nails dark, thick and brittle? Are your feet always sweaty and have a strong smell? Well, if you answer yes to one or more of those questions, you probably have tinea pedis known more commonly as athlete’s foot. Tinea pedis is the term used for a dermatophyte infection of the soles of the feet and the spaces between the toes. It is commonly caused by Trichophyton rubrum. It can also be cause by other dermatophytes as well as Candida.
These dermatophytes thrive in damp, closed environments, such as our shoes and socks. It doesn’t matter how many times you take a shower, as long as you wear your tight shoes that squeeze the toes together and create a warm, humid environment, the fungus will grow. It can spread from person to person by direct contact, or by contact with a contaminated surface such as shoes, towels, bath mats, and shower floors.
If not treated, athlete’s foot can become more severe and can involve the toe nails, causing onychomycosis. It will cause severe itching and stinging between the toes and in the bottom of the feet, as well as blisters. It can also create a perfect environment for a secondary bacterial infection, as well as spread to other areas of the body.
There are many treatments available for athlete’s foot, but if the cause of the problem isn’t treated, you will continue to infect yourself. First the fungus that is present in your shoes must be addressed. There are several products available in our office to sterilize shoes, such as Steri-shoe. Secondly, you must begin to alternate shoes and change your socks frequently. Never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, especially if you wear boots. This allows your shoes to become drier making it more difficult for the fungus to reproduce.
Once these steps are taken, our Atlanta podiatry experts at American Foot and Leg Specialists can treat the dermatophyte in the skin. If the infection is mild to moderate, prescription topical medications are suggested. If the infection is severe, then oral medications in addition to topical medications would be the suggested course of treatment. If your athlete’s foot doesn’t respond to treatment there are additional tests that we can run in order to determine the next step in treatment. If you have athlete’s foot and live in the Atlanta area, contact us at American Foot and Leg Specialists today.