The various medical issues we treat at our offices can be put into a few broad categories, including injuries, structural abnormalities, and infection. One of the common infections that your feet may suffer from at some point is athlete’s foot. The medical term is tinea pedis, and being able to recognize it is the first step in receiving the treatment you need.
An Introduction to Athlete’s Foot
This fungal infection typically begins between your toes before spreading to other areas of your feet. The mere thought of a fungal infection can be enough to make your skin crawl, almost literally. No one wants to think about fungi growing on his or her body, but this is a fairly common condition and is certainly treatable.
Part of the reason this is such a common condition is that the fungi are easily transferred by contact with contaminated surfaces or infected individuals. Examples of surfaces and items that can pass along the fungus include floors, shoes, and towels.
Symptoms and Signs
There are a handful of symptoms of athlete’s foot that may be noted either singly or combined, and these include:
Itching and burning sensations that worsen as the fungal infection spreads
Dry skin, typically accompanied by a scaly, red rash
Blisters and ulcers
Athlete’s Foot Risk Factors
Contrary to its name, this condition does not only affect athletes. Various demographics of the population have a higher risk of contracting the infection than others, including men, those with weakened immune systems, and individuals who frequently visit locker rooms, swimming pools, and communal showering areas (like those found in gyms and health clubs).
Activities that make it more likely to contract the infection include frequently wearing tight-fitting shoes or damp socks, and sharing socks, towels, or anything else that came into contact with an infected individual.
Treating Athlete’s Foot
Mild cases can be treated rather effectively with the use of over-the-counter antifungal spray, powder, or lotion. When the condition does not improve after an appropriate amount of time (read the instructions that accompany the antifungal agent), it is time to seek professional help from our practice. We may prescribe a stronger topical medication or oral antifungal pills to resolve the problem.
Instead of contracting and having to treat the condition, here are some tips to help you prevent it in the first place:
Wash your feet every day with soap and water. Afterwards, dry them thoroughly, including the areas between your toes.
Keep your feet as dry as possible, especially between the toes. When you are home, opt to go barefoot (unless you live with diabetes) so that your feet will air out.
If you sweat frequently, perhaps as a result of the condition hyperhidrosis, keep extra pairs of socks with you and change them when you need to.
Alternate between two different pairs of shoes—preferably ones that are made of materials that allow your feet to breathe—on a daily basis. This will give your footwear an opportunity to properly dry out.
Always wear sandals or shower shoes when you visit the gym or public pool, and use foot protection in communal showers or walk on the pool deck.
When you need professional care for a tricky case of athlete’s foot, make an appointment to see the doctors at the California Foot & Ankle Institute. Our podiatric practice will ensure that your feet are restored to their natural, healthy state. You can contact our Irvine, CA office by calling (949) 833-3406, our Victorville office at (760) 951-2000, or call us toll-free at (888) 796-6631. We also offer an online form, for your convenience in setting up your visit.
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