Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a very common fungal infection of the skin that affects the web spaces between the toes, and soles of the feet. Fungal infections can be contagious as they are passed from one person to the next, especially in public spaces where people go barefoot. This infection is commonly spread on contaminated floors of public spaces such as gyms, swimming pools, or nail salons.
Athlete’s Foot Symptoms
Patients often will sometimes present with itching and burning of the feet. The skin itself can be scaly or peeling, as well as red. There can occasionally be some oozing fluid present, and blistering. Some patients may not notice anything wrong with their feet and think that it is just “dry skin”.
Diagnosing athlete’s foot is clinical. Occasionally there may be an odd presentation of athlete’s foot, and samples of the tissue can be tested for fungal elements.
Risk Factors for Developing Fungal infection
There are many possible causes of skin irritation of the foot that may not necessarily be caused by a fungus. Allergic reaction from a foreign material (contact dermatitis), eczema, and psoriasis are all differential diagnosis to athlete’s foot.
People with a low immune system will typically be more at risk for developing a fungal infection. This includes people with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer, who have more trouble fighting foreign pathogens in their body.
How to Treat Athlete’s Foot
Treatment for athlete’s foot includes using topical medication to help stop the fungus from replicating and growing on your foot. There are many different fungal medications on the market, including over the counter medications and prescription medications.
More severe cases that are resistant to topical medications may require an oral pill to rid the fungus. Cleaning shoes/socks and avoiding moist, dark environments with the feet are recommended as well since fungus typically will thrive in such environments.
To Sum it Up
Athlete’s foot is a very common skin infection of the foot that is readily treatable. If not treated, the skin may crack, opening up the possibility of a bacterial infection. The skin infection may also spread to the nails, causing thickening and discoloration of the nail, which can be painful. Be mindful of where you walk barefoot so that you can avoid developing a fungal infection. If treatments do not work, it may not be a fungus and it is important to see a specialist to determine what it may be.
If you have any questions regarding athlete’s foot, we encourage a consult with one of our foot and ankle specialists; (877) 877-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.
He then went on to complete his surgical reconstruction fellowship with the University Foot and Ankle Institute, one of only a few fellowships recognized by the American College Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Now playing an integral role at the University Foot and Ankle Institute, Dr. Yau’s treats various sports injuries, including sprains, arthritis and fractures. He also is passionate about helping diabetic patients avoid amputation through correction of deformities and wound healing.
Dr. Yau is available for consultation at our Simi Valley location.
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