A Simple Overview of Athlete’s Foot
Everyone knows that healthy feet are essential to feeling good and staying active. However, when a foot irritation develops or an injury occurs every step can be a source of misery. Some foot problems can be the result of a skin disease or infection. One of the most common skin ailments to affect the feet is an annoying infection known as athlete’s foot.
Don’t let the name fool you. Although it is frequently seen in athletes, you don’t have to be involved in any sports to contract athlete’s foot. The truth is that athlete’s foot is a common and contagious fungal infection that thrives in many warm and moist environments. It can be found in places like showers, around swimming pools and locker room floors. Absolutely anyone in direct contact with an infected person or a surface contaminated with the fungus can acquire athlete’sfoot.
Despite the fact that the fungus is so widespread, there is no reason to be alarmed. Not everyone who touches the fungus will develop the skin infection. Foot conditions must be just right for athlete’s foot to flourish. Growth of this particular fungus is promoted when your feet are damp, sweaty, and constrained by close-fittingshoes.
Athlete’s foot typically develops between the toes but can also occur on other parts of your feet. It can affect one, or both of your feet. Although the skin infection can vary from person to person, signs and symptoms may include:
- Itching, stinging or burning discomfort
- Dry, flaky, scaly, peeling, or cracking skin
- Oozing or crusting blisters
When left untreated there is a risk that athlete’s foot can spread to the soles of your feet and to the toenails. Furthermore, you can infect other parts of your body by scratching the affected area, not washing your hands, and then touching your skin elsewhere. In the most severe cases of athlete’s foot there may be large, open cracks with exposed raw skin tissue. This particular situation is not only painful; it can lead to a serious secondary bacterial infection.
It is always a good idea to see your podiatrist when suffering a problematic foot condition. Often athlete’s foot can be diagnosed by simply examining the area. However, not all itchy and scaly feet necessarily mean athlete’s foot is present. Additional tests are sometimes required as there can be other conditions such as dermatitis, psoriasis, or a low-grade skin infection that produce similar symptoms.
Once a definitive diagnosis of athlete’s foot has been made, your podiatrist will prescribe the appropriate antifungal medication. Treatment may involve the application of a cream, a spray, a powder, or a pill taken orally. Used as directed, the medication in combination with daily foot hygiene and improved foot care practices, can help resolve your infection as well as prevent it from spreading.
Although bare feet often come into contact with the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, you can minimize your risk of developing athlete’s foot by taking some simple precautions. Always wear shower sandals or pool slippers when walking around public swimming pools, communal changing rooms, and bathing areas. Wash your feet daily with soap and water, cleaning between your toes and drying your feet thoroughly when finished. If needed, use antifungal powders to reduce foot perspiration. Wear socks made from materials that draw moisture away from the feet, such as cotton, wool, or silk. When purchasing footwear choose well-ventilated leather or canvas shoes that allow your feet to breathe. Always change your footwear regularly so that your shoes will dry out between wearings. Finally, remembernot to share footwear and to wash bed sheets and towels regularly.
Paying attention to your feet can go a long way in protecting you from unnecessary pain and discomfort. In the long run, the little bit of time and attention it takes to keep your feet looking good and feeling their best is well worth it.