What is Athlete’s Foot?
Contrary to what the name may suggest, athlete’s foot is not specific to just athlete’s and is caused by a fungal skin infection. In fact, athlete’s foot is the most common fungal skin infection. Symptoms of athlete’s foot may appear differently depending on an individual’s particular case. Though athlete’s foot usually occurs as an itchy rash on the bottom of the foot, there are three distinct types of athlete’s foot:
- Toe web infection: Found between the fourth and fifth toes, a toe web infection results in itchy skin that becomes scaly and can eventually crack. This infection can occur simultaneously with a bacterial infection, breaking down the integrity of the skin and worsening the condition.
- Moccasin type infection: Located on the bottom or heel of the foot and resulting in soreness, a moccasin type infection involves the skin on the bottom of the foot thickening and cracking. This infection can spread to the toes, ultimately causing the toenails to thicken and turn yellowish in color before they fall out. Toenail infections, as a result of athlete’s foot, generally require a separate treatment.
- Vesicular type infection: A vesicular type infection may begin with the sole of the foot developing fluid-filled blisters underneath the skin. However, these blisters can appear anywhere on the foot. This type of athlete’s foot infection can also result in a bacterial infection.
What causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that grows on the foot. Athlete foot fungus thrives in areas that are warm and wet, which can make your feet a perfect environment for the growth of the fungi. Poorly fitted shoes that do not allow for proper air circulation often times result in athlete’s foot. Walking barefoot in areas that are wet, such as the pool or a locker room, increases your risk of contracting athlete’s foot and often times is the origin of the fungi which can then proliferate and continue to grow inside your shoes. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread from one person to another even if someone does not currently show symptoms of the infection. Once you have athlete’s foot your odds of getting it again significantly increase.
Treatment for Athlete’s Foot
Many cases of athlete’s foot can be treated and cured at home using over the counter powders and creams that may be purchased at a local pharmacy. More severe cases that persist may require further attention by one of our physicians at American Foot and Leg Specialists where you may be prescribed medicine in the form of a pill and/or a topical medicine that can be applied directly to the affected and surrounding areas.
Simple steps such as wearing sandals around pools and in the locker room are effective ways of keeping the fungi at bay. Also, as briefly stated above, keeping your shoes dry and well ventilated is important. Wearing socks that wick away moisture from the feet or by using a talcum powder that can be applied to the feet and works to keep the feet dry can also limit your chances of getting the athlete’s foot.