Despite any implications that come with the name, athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is certainly not a condition that is limited to those who participate in athletic activities. This is a fairly common fungal infection that anyone can acquire, but it is one that can be easily treated and prevented if you know the symptoms and causes of athlete’s foot.
Recognizing Athlete’s Foot
In many cases, the first sign of the condition is an itchy, burning sensation that often begins between the toes. The itching sensation is often particularly strong after socks and shoes have been removed. Once the feet are exposed, you may observe a red, scaly rash extending from the toes and across the foot. In some variations of the infection, blisters and ulcers develop. Others can be mistaken for dry skin or eczema on account of scaling on soles and chronic dryness.
Causes of Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that is the same type that causes jock itch and ringworm. The fungus flourishes in humid, warm environments, like those found in feet that are covered in socks and shoes. The condition itself is contagious, both as a result of contact with an infected individual and via contaminated surfaces, including shoes, towels, and floors.
Effective Treatment Methods
Mild cases of athlete’s foot are generally treated rather effectively with the use of over-the-counter antifungal products like sprays, powders, lotions, and ointment. If you are using any such product to treat your fungal infection, be sure to follow the directions listed on the container. Often, you will be instructed to continue using the product after the symptoms have gone away. Failure to do so usually results in a return of the condition.
In cases where over-the-counter products do not produce the desired results, you may need professional treatment. We can prescribe stronger medication that will either be applied topically or taken orally, with pills being particularly effective for severe infections.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
While athlete’s foot is not a particularly dangerous condition, you likely wouldn’t enjoy having to deal with the itching, burning sensations it brings. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your odds of contracting the fungal infection in the first place. Here’s what you need to do:
- Keep your feet dry, which especially applies to areas between your toes. Fungus best thrives in damp areas, so avoid this condition in your feet by walking barefoot at home (unless you live with diabetes) and letting them air out.
- Regularly change your socks. Wear a fresh pair every day and change them after they have become wet or damp. If you have a condition that causes excessive sweating, always have extra pairs with you to change into throughout the day.
- Regularly change your shoes. Alternate between two pairs of shoes on an “every other day” basis to give each pair 24 hours to completely dry between uses.
- Protect your feet. The floors and decks in locker rooms, showering areas, and indoor pool can be breeding grounds for fungus, so wear shower shoes or waterproof sandals when walking in these areas.
- Treat your feet. A daily application of antifungal powder or spray will help keep your feet free from athlete’s foot.
Professional Fungal Treatment in Geneva, IL
Most case of athlete’s foot, especially mild to moderate ones, can be effectively treated at home with remedies from your local pharmacy or department store. When you are suffering from a severe case, or are finding over-the-counter products to be insufficient, it is time to consult with the foot specialists at Prairie Path Podiatry. In these instances, we may need to prescribe a strong medication, so give our Geneva, IL office a call at (630) 845-3338 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment with us today. We’ll provide exceptional treatment in our relaxing facility, and then you can be on your way to enjoy your life without itchy, stinging toes—athlete or not!