What Is the Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)?
Athlete’s foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are also breeding grounds for fungi. Because the infection was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently, the term “athlete’s foot” became popular.
Not all fungus conditions are athlete’s foot. Other conditions, such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema, and psoriasis, may mimic athlete’s foot.
The signs of athlete’s foot, singly or combined, are dry skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blisters. Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads.
Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere. The organisms causing athlete’s foot may persist for long periods. Consequently, the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing to other parts of the body.
Athlete’s Foot can be caused by many conditions that include:
- Shoes. Shoes can create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth.
- Public Exposure. The warmth and dampness of areas public areas swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are breeding grounds for fungi. If one person frequenting these locations has the infection, it can spread easily to other people.
Anti-fungal powders, sprays, and/or creams are often utilized to treat athlete’s foot. Your foot and ankle surgeon will recommend the best treatment for you.
It is not easy to prevent athlete’s foot because it is usually contracted in dressing rooms, showers, and swimming pool locker rooms where bare feet come in contact with the fungus. However, you can do much to prevent infection by practicing good foot hygiene. Try to wear light and airy shoes. Avoid walking barefoot in public places; use shower shoes if you must use public showers and locker rooms. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water; drying carefully, especially between the toes; and changing shoes and socks regularly to decrease moisture, help prevent the fungus from infecting the feet. Also, daily use of a quality foot powder can reduce perspiration.
If you are experiencing athletes foot please visit any of our five locations, Savannah, Hinesville, Statesboro, Claxton, or Bluffton and speak with our podiatrists to create a treatment plan perfectly suited to you and your needs.