Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is an unpleasant rash that usually forms between your toes, causing itching.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus. It’s not generally considered serious, but it can spread to other parts of your body or to other people if it’s not treated.
Athlete’s foot usually appears between your toes or on the soles of your feet. Know the symptoms - look out for areas of skin that are:
The infection will spread readily to other parts of your body and can set up fungal nail infections underneath your toenails. It left untreated, the skin on your feet can become infected by bacteria, leading to cellulitis and consequently to hot, red, and swollen feet.
Fungi cause athlete’s foot. It thrives in the warm, moist, dark environment that’s provided by your feet.
You are more likely to get athlete’s foot if you wear shoes and socks that make your feet hot and sweaty. Communal areas such as the locker rooms and showers at your local swimming pool or gym are prime places for picking up athlete’s foot fungi. Sharing footwear, towels, and socks with other people is another way of contracting the disease.
Conditions like diabetes and some autoimmune diseases can make you more prone to catching athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot commonly occurs in children who are regularly swimming and playing barefoot with others in communal areas.
Athlete’s foot won’t usually just clear up on its own; you may need some treatment. Obtain some antifungal treatment from your local pharmacy or from your doctor. These treatments work by preventing the fungus from growing and come in sprays, liquids, powders, and creams.
You should apply your chosen treatment directly to the affected parts of your skin and to the area immediately surrounding it. Wash the skin with clean, warm water and dry it before applying the treatment; remember to wash your hands afterward. It’s important that you continue the treatment until the symptoms have completely disappeared.
Over-the-counter antifungal treatments are usually very effective but if the rash is itchy and very sore, the pharmacist might recommend that you use a mild steroid cream. You should only use steroids for a short period and always in conjunction with the antifungal treatment.
Always seek the advice of your doctor if the athlete’s foot doesn’t clear up following a week or so of treatment or if you are in considerable pain and discomfort. Your doctor may take a very small skin sample to send away for testing and you may also be given a stronger antifungal drug or topical cream to use.
The most effective way of preventing athlete’s foot from coming back is to practice good foot hygiene.
Be sure to dry your feet carefully but thoroughly after you’ve washed them, paying particular attention to the area between your toes. Applying a small amount of talcum powder to your feet can help to keep them dry. When putting on moisturizer, don’t apply any between your toes.
Swap your synthetic fabric socks for pure cotton ones that will allow your feet to breathe and prevent sweating. Wear shoes made of natural materials too. Always remember to change your tights, stockings or socks every day and change your shoes too so that they have time to dry thoroughly in between uses. Don’t share shoes and socks with other people.
Wear thongs when walking around in public locker rooms and showers. Never share your towel with anyone and wash it after every visit.
In fine, dry weather, go barefoot around the house and in your garden whenever you can to help keep your feet ‘aired’ and dry.
Athlete’s foot is a nuisance, but it is not usually considered serious. Be sure to treat athlete’s foot promptly and follow the guidance given above to prevent a recurrence.