Athlete’s Foot is an infection in the feet caused by a fungus and is usually found between the toes. It’s also called tinea of the foot or tinea pedis.
Although it’s been around for hundreds of years and is a common condition, the incidence of Athlete’s Foot has increased since we started wearing shoes more often. Fungus thrives in dark and sweaty places. The feet need fresh air and sunshine, like most other parts of our body. They don’t like to be encased in warm sweaty shoes all day. Good habits for general footcare at home will help prevent Athlete’s Foot – more about this below.
What causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s Foot is caused by tinea, a fungus that you catch from direct contact with surfaces contaminated by the fungus. These include public showers, around swimming pools, in change rooms floors and anywhere else that provides a warm and moist environment for the fungus to grow.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Here are symptoms of Athlete’s Foot to look out for:
- Itchy, red and flaky skin between the toes, often starting between the fourth and fifth toes
- Dry scaly skin on the soles of the feet
- Itchy blisters between the toes or the top of the feet
- In severe cases;
- bleeding and oozing from cracked skin in the toes or heels, along with an unpleasant smell can occur
- discoloured, thick and flaky toenails that pull away from the nail bed
Self-help – what you can do at home
Here are some simple things you can do to prevent Athlete’s Foot.
- Wash your feet thoroughly especially between the toes – every day
- After washing, dry your feet thoroughly, making sure to dry between the toes
- Wear socks made of natural fibre to allow your feet to breathe – synthetics keep your feet moist and humid
- Wear thick cotton socks to absorb sweat away from your feet if you get particularly sweaty feet
- Wear shoes made of natural fibres, synthetic shoes create a humid and moist environment in which the fungus will thrive
- Keep your shoes aired and dry from moisture/sweat – pop them out in the sunshine and even if there is no sun, leaving them outside in the fresh air will help
- Wear sandals or thongs in communal areas such as public showers and change rooms to prevent direct contact
- Try antifungals creams and powders which are available at the chemist – these are effective at treating tinea.
Although creams are effective at treating Athlete’s Foot, the most important thing to do is to prevent it from recurring. By practising the hygiene tips above, you’ll develop good habits and look after your feet for the long term.
When should you consult a podiatrist?
It is important to attend to any kind of fungal infection promptly. If left untreated, Athlete’s Foot can spread to the toenails and cause a more persistent and stubborn fungal nail infection.
In most cases, increasing the level of foot care at home as we’ve suggested above along with some antifungal creams will work and eliminate the infection. However, if the fungus persists, please make an appointment to see us as there may be an underlying problem that needs attention.
Call our podiatry clinic and make an appointment with one of our experienced and gentle podiatrists. You’ll find our clinics in three different locations: