On hearing the term ‘athlete’s foot’, one might assume it is a sportsperson’s disease.
However, athlete’s foot is a condition that affects, athlete’s as well as non-athletes. This itchy infection is contagious and spreads really fast to other parts of the body as well if left untreated. Let us have a look at some facts that will help you learn more about athlete’s foot.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin. This infection is also known as tinea pedis or ringworm of the foot. The causative agent is fungi Trichophyton. The infected skin becomes scaly, flaky, itchy as well as red. The infection is seen between the toes and the sole of the foot where the area is moist and warm. It can spread to the toenails, groin, hands as well as underarm from the foot.
Where Can One Get Infected with Athlete’s Foot?
Tinea pedis can infect skin that is moist, sweaty or damp. The fungi is commonly present in public places like swimming pools, locker rooms, spa, showers, etc. Those who walk barefoot in such damp areas, can get infected by the fungus. However, these organisms do not spread as long as one keeps the skin of their foot clean and dry.
People who wear tight shoes for long periods of time tend to develop sweaty feet. This helps the fungus grow in the warm, damp skin between the toes and soles. In many cases, sharing shoes, sandals, towels as well as walking barefoot on wet floors can lead to an infection.
What are the Signs of Athlete’s Foot Infection?
One of the major symptoms of athlete’s foot is itchy, burning skin.
Other signs include:
- Scaling of skin
- Formation of cracks on skin
- Appearance of watery blisters
- Redness of skin
- Infection may spread to the nails making them appear yellow and thick
Some people may develop secondary bacterial infection between the toes. This is because of the open skin allowing infectious bacteria to gain entry into the body. The soles of the foot may become thick and begin to crack. At times blisters are formed making it difficult to walk.
How is Athlete’s Foot Diagnosed?
The doctor just needs to examine your foot physically, to know that you have a fungal infection. At times, some few scrapings of the foot will be taken for analysis, to make sure it is not some other skin disease.
How is Athlete’s Foot Treated?
Many people tend to overcome the infection on their own without medical treatment and a few home remedies. However, people with a weak immune system, diabetics as well as a few who are prone to fungal infection need medical guidance for getting rid of the infection. Doctors may advice a topical medication that helps control the spread of fungus. Antifungal medications, zinc oxide ointment as well as powders may be advised. Antifungal agents made of miconazole nitrate, clotrimazole, ketoconazole, etc. help in clearing the infection.
Home Remedies for Athlete’s Foot
To prevent and control the infection, one should carry out few preventive measures.
- Keep your toenails short and clean. The infection can easily spread, if the fungus gets trapped between the nails and skin.
- Those prone to sweaty feet, should keep their feet dry and clean. Avoid wearing closed or tight shoes for long periods.
- Wear clean cotton socks and avoid nylon socks that make feet more sweaty and damp.
- One should avoid walking barefoot near swimming pools, public showers, lockers as well as other wet floor areas.
Athlete’s foot gets cured on its own with a little personal care. However, those who seem to fight a never ending battle with the infection, should seek medical advise. There are many over-the-counter antifungal powders, gels and ointments available that help curb ringworm infection. It has been found diabetics or people with weak immune system are more prone to recurring fungal infection. Thus, get yourself checked to rule out any other underlying medical condition. Athlete’s foot may spread to the groin, hands as well as armpits. To avoid embarrassing situations as well as risk of spreading the infection to others, make sure you get yourself treated as soon as possible.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: December 13, 2014