Athlete’s foot is a common condition that most people know at least a little about, but not the whole story. Typically, an average person understands that this infection leads to itchy feet. The root cause behind the condition, along with ways of treating and preventing athlete’s foot, might not be as well-known, however. Here at Palm Beach Podiatry, we want you to be as educated as possible in the hopes that you don’t have to suffer from this infection in the first place.
An Introduction to Athlete’s Foot
Basically, athlete’s foot—also known as tinea pedis—is a fungal infection that will often start developing between the toes and can progress across the foot if left untreated. This condition is most likely to affect those who have sweaty feet, and it causes a burning, itchy sensation that can become rather uncomfortable. In addition to the itching and burning, other symptoms include a red, scaly rash and potentially even blisters or ulcers.
Tinea pedis is a contagious infection that can be spread through such avenues as contaminated towels, clothing, or floors and is related to jock itch and ringworm. Fortunately, this is a preventable and treatable condition. Understanding the various causes and risk factors associated with this fungal infection can help you to take measures to reduce your risk of contracting it.
Fungal Infection Causes and Risk Factors
As alluded to, this infection is caused by a fungus and is often contracted by contact with contaminated surfaces. Given that fungal growth relies on damp or humid environments, common places where the offensive organisms can be found include locker rooms, public showering areas, and pool decks. An infection can also happen as a result of sharing towels, socks, or other items with someone who is carrying fungus around on his or her feet.
While anyone with feet can develop this condition, some individuals are more likely to than others. Risk factors that increase the odds include gender (males have higher risk), impaired immune systems, jobs in damp environments, tight-fitting shoes, and living with someone who has athlete’s foot.
Treating and Preventing Athlete’s Foot
Depending on the severity of your infection, we may take different approaches with regard to treatment. For mild cases, particularly those that are in earlier stages of development, we may simply recommend that you use an over-the-counter antifungal powder, spray, lotion, or ointment to care for the tinea pedis. If this does not produce the desired result and clear up the condition, you may need either prescription-strength topical medication or even antifungal pills to be taken orally.
Of course, preventing a case of athlete’s foot is better than having to treat one. Take the following measures to keep this condition away:
- Keep your feet dry. The fungus needs moisture to thrive, so make sure that you completely dry your feet after bathing or showering, especially between the toes. Walk barefoot at home now and then, unless you have diabetes or neuropathy, to air out your feet.
- Wear clean socks. In addition to just wearing a fresh pair of socks every day, you can receive extra protection by washing them inside out. This will help remove offensive material from the insides.
- Alternate shoes. Wear two different pairs of shoes on alternating days. This allows each pair a full 24 hours to dry out before they are worn again.
- Protect your feet. When using a gym or going to the pool, wear a pair of sandals or shower shoes when you are in the locker room or on deck, or while showering afterwards.
- Treat your shoes and feet. Sprinkle or spray antifungal agents onto your feet and inside your shoes on a daily basis.
Expert Foot Care for Fungal Infections in Boynton Beach, FL
When you have a tough, stubborn case of athlete’s foot that you cannot take care of yourself, or if you would like more information on this topic from knowledgeable experts, contact Palm Beach Podiatry. We have offices in Boynton Beach: (561) 734-3100; Loxahatchee: (561) 791-7773; or Fort Pierce, FL: (772) 468-0089, to better serve our community. Schedule your appointment by calling any of our locations or use our online form to reach us.