Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a skin disease caused by a fungal infection. The infection typically occurs between the toes, and the feet are most subject to this disease because shoes best create the warm, dark, and moist environment in which fungus thrives. Other areas that create a similar environment, such as swimming pools, public showers, and locker rooms; can also promote fungi growth.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot include dry skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blistering. Sometimes, blisters can evolve into the cracks or breaks in the skin. The exposed tissue can then create pain, swelling, and discharge. The spread of infection can cause itching and burning as well.
While athlete’s foot commonly occurs between the toes, it may also spread to the toenails or soles of the feet. Other parts of the body, such as the groin or underarms, can also become infected if they are touched after the original area of infection is scratched. Aside from physical contact, athlete’s foot can also spread through the contamination of footwear, clothing or bedsheets.
Proper foot hygiene is essential in preventing athlete’s foot. You can prevent the fungus from spreading by frequently washing your feet using soap and water, thoroughly drying the feet between the toes, changing shoes and socks every day to reduce moisture, and ensuring that bathroom and shower floors are disinfected. Other tips include using shower shoes, avoiding walking barefoot in public environments, wearing light and airy shoes, and wearing socks that keep the feet dry.
While treatment for athlete’s foot can involve topical or oral antifungal drugs, mild cases of the infection can be treated by dusting foot powder in shoes and socks. Any treatment used can be supplemented by frequently bathing the feet and drying the toes. If proper foot hygiene and self-care do not ease your case of athlete’s foot, contact your podiatrist. He will determine if the underlying cause of your condition is truly a fungus. If that is the case, a comprehensive treatment plan may be suggested with the inclusion of prescription antifungal medications.