What Is Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a foot condition where a contagious fungal infection affects the skin on your feet. This infection spreads over the soles of your feet, between the toes, toenails, and in some cases, your hands. Tinea pedis was granted the name “athlete’s foot” because it’s commonly found in athletes that deal with sweaty feet. Fungi thrive in moist areas and feed off of keratin, which is one of the components found on the outer layer of your skin. It creates the perfect environment for a fungal infection.
Athlete’s foot may lead to scaly or cracked skin, painful or itchy blisters, and can create foot odour. If not treated, it can cause foot pain and difficulty when walking.
What Are the Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?
There are numerous possible symptoms you can experience with athlete’s foot, such as:
- A scaly-looking rash
- Translucent moist skin between the toes
- Dry or peeling skin on the soles of the feet
- Cracked heels
- Blisters on your feet
- Discoloured toenails
- Bad foot odour
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus called dermatophytes. The fungi can grow and feed off the outer layer of skin on your feet and can easily spread to other body parts and other people.
This type of fungi requires warm and moist environments to live in. You can commonly find dermatophytes in public swimming pools, communal showers, and locker rooms. That’s why it’s recommended to wear flip-flops or shoes to protect your skin from contact with any possibly infected areas.
How Is Athlete’s Foot Diagnosed?
Athlete’s foot may be diagnosed by the symptoms you’re experiencing. However, a doctor may order a skin test to ensure it is the cause of your infected feet. The most common test for athlete’s foot is a skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam. In the exam, the doctor scrapes off a small patch of infected skin and places it in potassium hydroxide to determine if there are any fungal cells.
How Do I Treat Athlete’s Foot?
There are various treatment options for athlete’s foot, such as over-the-counter medications. If OTC antifungal medications don’t work, then topical or oral medications prescribed by your doctor may work. There are also home remedies that can help fight your bacterial infection.
There are many OTC antifungal medications that you can try, including:
- Terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
- Miconazole (Desenex)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
- Butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
- Tolnaftate (Tinactin)
Some of the prescription medications your doctor may prescribe for athlete’s foot include:
- Topical prescription ointments such as clotrimazole and miconazole
- Topical steroid medications that reduce inflammation
- Oral antifungal medications, such as itraconazole (Sporanox), fluconazole (Diflucan), and prescription terbinafine (Lamisil)
- Oral antibiotics for bacterial infections that develop raw skin or blisters
Some home remedies for athlete’s foot can help prevent the spread and treat it:
You can use some essential oils to prevent or potentially stop the growth of bacteria. These include bitter orange, peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a go-to choice in home remedies, although it may not always completely rid your feet from a fungal infection like athlete’s foot.
While treating your athlete’s foot infection, it is vital that you also do the following:
- Clean your socks and linens regularly with bleach or hot water.
- Clean any surfaces that your bare feet have touched.
- Wash your feet once a day and make sure that they are dried completely.
If you’re concerned about treating your athlete’s foot infection, create an appointment with a Foot Specialist to discuss what treatment option is right for you.
What Are the Risks?
Various factors can make you more prone to getting athlete’s foot, such as:
- Walking barefoot in possible contaminated areas, such as swimming pools, saunas, communal showers, and locker room floors
- Sweaty feet are a big factor in getting athlete’s foot. Damp socks or shoes made of non-breathable materials can create the right moisture levels for fungi to inhabit.
- Having a secondary bacterial infection on your body, such as jock itch
- Athlete’s foot is a contagious infection, which means sharing any footwear, clothes, bed linen, or towels can cause a spread.
How Do I Prevent Athlete’s Foot?
If you’re looking for foot care solutions to prevent the risk of developing athlete’s foot or reduce active infections, here are some options:
- Wash your feet and skin with antibacterial soaps.
- Ensure your feet and in between toes are thoroughly dried after a shower or bath.
- Change your socks regularly whenever they become damp from sweat.
- Wear socks that absorb or wick away moisture.
- Make sure your shoes are dry before wearing them again.
- Alternate between footwear as much as possible.
- Make sure your shoes are well-ventilated. Avoid non-breathable materials, such as vinyl and rubber.
- Use disinfecting sprays or wipes when cleaning your footwear.
- Wear sandals or shoes whenever you are at swimming pools or communal showers.
- When you’re home, spend time barefoot to air out your feet.
- Be aware when sharing footwear, clothes, or towels.
At Academy Clinics, your foot care will be our utmost priority. We have a wide variety of services and products that you can find from our foot specialists. For any advice on treatments or services, call us and make an appointment today.