Athletes Foot

Athletes FootWHAT IS ATHLETES FOOT (Tinea Pedis)

Its not uncommon for me to receive a couple of calls a day for people needing advice on how to treat Athletes Foot.

Athletes foot is a fungal skin condition that can affect anyone, of any age and of any gender, common in non athletes and athletes, regardless of activity.  It is usually caused by dermatophytes or yeasts.  Dermatophytes are by far the most common causative agents in fungal infections.

The condition can usually be found on the feet, although it can spread to the hands and the face, if not treated.  It takes on several appearances from dry scaly sore skin to moist white macerated skin, on the soles, heels and sides of the feet and in particular between the toes.  The infection can cause a great deal of discomfort for the patient, with some people complaining about severe itching, burning, swelling and cracking.  If not treated effectively, it can spread to the nails, resulting in thick, flaky yellow nails.

How do you get Athletes Foot?

Athletes foot occurs mainly due to a build up of perspiration leading to deposits of dermatophytes or yeast, usually from the hot, suffocating environment feet are exposed to, especially when protective footwear is worn over long periods of time on a day to day basis or sports shoes worn repeatedly.

Treatments for Athletes Foot

As this infection is highly contagious, wearing flip flops or similar footwear around swimming pools, changing rooms or places where the feet are exposed is important and also taking care not to share towels is equally important.

Over the counter topical ointments, sprays and creams are available as anti fungal treatments, usually to be applied daily and also 1 – 2 weeks after the visible signs of infection have disappeared.  If the infection does not subside then a visit to your Doctor would be useful, where oral medication may be described (please check the side effects of these medications).

As Athletes foot has a tendency to recur, taking precautions as indicated below will help to prevent the conditions from returning.

  • Change good quality high percentage cotton socks daily.
  • Keep feet dry and clean, taking care to clean between the toes.
  • Avoid wearing footwear from man made fibres.
  • Use of a good foot deodorant to prevent excessive sweating.
  • Wear flip flops or similar around changing rooms or swimming pool areas.
  • Clean any cracks or lesions on the skin to prevent a fungal infection entering.
  • Change sports trainers regularly.

Apply topical antifungal treatments daily, as prescribed and for a couple of weeks after the infection is no longer visible to totally eradicate the condition.