What is athlete's foot?
Athletes' foot is a most common fungal skin infection and is highly contagious. It is transferred by direct skin-to-skin contact and indirect contact with objects such as socks, bed linens, clothing, and shoes. The fungus thrives in dark, moist places and can also be found in locker rooms, public showers, and swimming pools. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more susceptible to developing athletes' foot.
What causes athlete's foot?
A fungal infection causes athlete's foot. Fungal infections can develop if your feet are not properly cared for and your foot hygiene is poor. Tight or narrow shoes can also promote fungal growth, leading to athlete's foot.
The risks listed below can increase your chances of getting athletes' foot.
- Walking barefoot
- Warm or damp socks
- Open cut or sore on the foot
- Compromise immune system or diabetes
What are the symptoms of an athlete's foot?
Because of the lack of symptoms, people may not even realize they have athlete's foot. Some people may experience a burning or stinging sensation and irritation between the toes. Others may notice scaling patterns on the soles or sides of their feet and visible blistering or swelling. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Ingrown toenails
- Thick, discolored, and crumbly toenails
- Oozing, swelling, crusting, itching, blisters
- Dry, peeling, and raw skin on the sides or soles of the feet
How is athlete's foot diagnosed?
Athlete's foot can is diagnosed by its common symptoms. Dr. Hasssan may also scrape skin samples from the affected area to rule out other conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
How is athlete's foot treated?
The treatment of athlete's foot consists of controlling the fungal infection and treating any secondary bacterial infection with oral antibiotics. Most cases of athlete's foot are mild, and you do not need to see a podiatrist. In these cases, over-the-counter medications can be effective.
Several anti-fungal sprays, ointments, and powders are available without a prescription. These include:
- Lotrimin AF
- Lotrimin Ultra
Dr. Hassan may also prescribe home remedies like:
- Washing your feet often with soap and water
- Soaking your feet in Epsom salt or vinegar diluted with water
- Changing your shoes and socks frequently to keep your feet dry
- Sprinkle anti-fungal powder in your shoes and socks
- Wear sandals to prevent moisture from accumulating
- Don't share towels and wash them regularly
You will require an antibiotic prescription if your symptoms do not improve or worsen over time.
How can I prevent athlete's foot?
Athlete's foot can be prevented by following these tips:
- Try to keep your feet
- Wear shoes that are light, well ventilated, and made of breathable materials like canvas or leather
- Wear socks with a breathable material like silk, cotton, or wool
- Apply an anti-fungal spray or powder daily
- Do not wear anyone else's socks or shoes
- After exercise or sports, remove your shoes
- Wear sandals when walking in public places, changing rooms, swimming pools, and shower areas
By taking these steps, you can reduce your environmental exposure to fungi. Keeping your feet clean is vital to prevent bacteria and fungi from growing. Try to disinfect your sink, tub, counters, and other surfaces weekly to prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria.
What are the possible complications of athlete's foot?
In some cases, athlete's foot can cause complications. Most of the time, they are mild. Mild complications include an inflammatory reaction to the fungus, which causes blisters on the feet or hands. Some mild infections may recur after treatment.
In rare instances, athlete's foot may lead to severe complications, and immediate treatment is essential. An early diagnosis greatly reduces the chance of complications.
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