Athlete’s foot, known medically as tinea pedis, can affect anyone. Minor cases appear as dry, itchy, flaky skin between the toes, easily treated with over the counter lotions and powders. More severe cases may also include redness and open, sore areas, requiring medical attention from a podiatrist. Patients who are diabetic and elderly, or have an impaired immune system can quickly develop a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis, which requires medical treatment.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin, usually acquired when walking barefoot in communal areas like gym showers, saunas, Hotels, beaches, even your own bathroom. The fungus grows on floors, bath tubs, shower stalls, and clothing (especially socks) – anywhere that’s warm, damp, and dark.
The first place athlete’s foot usually appears is between your toes. From there, the fungus can spread to any point on your body, especially those areas which are enclosed and stay warm and moist, like your groin and toenails. Since your shoes typically press your toes together and perspiration keeps the skin damp, once infected, the fungus can spread rapidly.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot
- Scaling, flaking, mild to intense itching, usually starting around the toes
- Blisters and cracked skin leading to exposed raw skin, pain, swelling, and inflammation
- Bacterial infection can accompany more serious cases, requiring a course of oral antibiotics
How to avoid athlete’s foot
- Let your feet “breathe” – go barefoot as often as possible, especially at home (assuming you have no foot conditions that would prohibit this)
- Where flip flops when walking in damp, communal areas to avoid contact with the floor
- Wear shoes which are wide and roomy
- Never wear someone else’s shoes or socks
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water and soak with white vinegar for prevention
- Keep your feet dry, especially between your toes
- Use an anti-fungal powder as needed
- Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row, especially work boots!!
- Use fresh sock daily and possibly change them twice a day for hyperhydrosis