Athlete’s Foot



Athlete’s foot is a dermatological condition that is more formally referred to as tinea pedis (foot fungus), and while it does indeed affect the feet it is no way limited to athletes. In fact, it is an extremely common condition that strikes roughly 1 out of every 10 people, and males are usually more susceptible to developing it than females are.

There are three primary categories of athlete’s foot:

Interdigital: This is the most common type of fungus and symptoms usually include itching, scaling and fissures on the bottom of the feet. The first indications of infection are usually found between the 4th and 5th toes.

Moccasin-Type: This type of infection usually causes dry, flaky skin and tender areas to develop on the soles of the feet. It also often produces an unusual pattern of infection by showing up in two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot.

Acute Vesicular:  This is the least common of the three types of fungus and is characterized by a sudden outbreak of painful blisters on either side of the foot, which are caused by an allergic reaction to the fungus.

Regardless of the type of infection that is occurring most cases of athlete’s foot display very similar symptoms, such as: itchy red skin and small, inflamed bumps on the soles of the feet, sensations of ‘burning’ in the feet, blistering, cracking or fissures developing on the soles of the feet. In most cases symptoms often first develop between the toes.

Athlete’s foot is most often contracted through wet public surfaces such as those found near public pools and gym locker rooms. It can also be spread through the sharing of socks and towels or direct skin to skin contact. Fungus requires both heat and moisture to survive and spread, so special care should be taken in these environments. Cuts and scrapes make the skin more vulnerable to infection and diabetics need to take special care to examine their feet after exposure to high-risk areas, as they may not feel discomfort when symptoms of athlete’s foot develop.

Most cases of athlete’s foot can be successfully treated with topical anti-fungal creams, gels or lotions, though severe cases may require prescription strength products prescribed by a doctor. The next line of treatment involves oral medication that may contain both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. In either case it is often prudent to use anti-fungal powders in the shoes as well, and special attention must be paid to keeping the feet clean and dry.

If you suspect you have athlete’s foot but the condition does not clear up or respond to over the counter treatments then it’s imperative that you see your doctor. Your condition may be causes by another type of pathology, such as eczema, ringworm, or psoriasis, and proper treatment will need to be undertaken. If athlete’s foot is left untreated various infections may develop.

Preventing athlete’s foot from developing in the first place is preferable to having to treat it. Keeping the feet clean, dry and cool is foremost in keeping this fungus at bay. The feet should be dried thoroughly after bathing and showering, especially between the toes. The use of absorbent socks is recommended for people prone to contracting athlete’s foot, as is removing socks immediately after any physical activity that produces humidity or sweat.

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