athletes foot

Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis)

Athlete's foot occurs when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. You can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person or by touching surfaces contaminated with the fungus. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to this infection while others do not get it even with repeated exposure to the fungus. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments and is commonly found in showers, on locker room floors and around swimming pools. It commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tight-fitting shoes. Symptoms include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging, and/or burning. People with athlete's foot often have moist, raw skin or scaling between their toes.

Treatment involves topical or oral antifungal medications. You may choose not to treat athlete's foot if your symptoms don't bother you and you have no health problems that increase your chance of severe foot infection, such as diabetes. However, untreated athlete's foot that causes skin blisters or skin cracks can lead to severe bacterial infection. Also, if you don't treat athlete's foot, you can spread it to other people. Severe infections that appear suddenly usually respond well to treatment. Long-lasting (chronic) infections can be more difficult to cure. Toenail infections (onychomycosis) that can develop with athlete's foot tend to be more difficult to cure than fungal skin infections.

Preventative foot care
◦ Dry between your toes after swimming or bathing.
◦ Wear shoes or sandals that allow your feet to breathe.
◦ When indoors, wear socks when not wearing shoes.
◦ Wear socks to absorb sweat.
◦ Use talcum or antifungal powder on your feet, to absorb sweat.
◦ Allow your shoes to air for 24 hours before you wear them again.
◦ Spray an antifungal spray into your shoes before you put them on and after taking them off.

Treatment options
◦ Over-the-counter topical antifungal medicines to kill the fungus or slow its growth.
◦ Prescription topical antifungals may be tried if nonprescription medicines are not successful or if you have a severe infection.
◦ Prescription antifungals can also be taken as a pill, in severe or resistant cases. Oral antifungal pills can be expensive and may require blood test monitoring.
◦ Athlete's foot can return even after antifungal pill treatment, therefore it is important to continue preventive foot care.
◦ Even if your symptoms improve shortly after you begin using antifungal medicine, it is important that you complete the full course of medicine.