Athlete's foot is
a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between
The fungus most
commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark,
and humid environment which encourages fungus growth.
The warmth and
dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker
rooms, are also breeding grounds for fungi. Because the infection
was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently,
the term ìathlete's footî became popular.
Not all fungus
conditions are athlete's foot. Other conditions, such as disturbances
of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes,
eczema, and psoriasis, also may mimic athlete's foot.
The signs of athlete's
foot, singly or combined, are drying skin, itching scaling, inflammation,
and blisters. Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When
blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing
pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection
may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can
be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms,
by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves
causing athlete's foot may persist for long periods. Consequently,
the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing
to other parts of the body.
It is not easy to
prevent athlete's foot because it is usually contracted in dressing
rooms, showers, and swimming pool locker rooms where bare feet
come in contact with the fungus. However, you can do much to
prevent infection by practicing good foot hygiene. Daily washing
of the feet with soap and water; drying carefully, especially
between the toes; and changing shoes and hose regularly to decrease
moisture, help prevent the fungus from infecting the feet. Also
helpful is daily use of a quality foot powder.
- Avoid walking barefoot; use shower
- Reduce perspiration by using talcum
- Wear light and airy shoes.
- Wear socks that keep your feet dry,
and change them frequently if you perspire heavily.
Fungicidal and fungistatic
chemicals, used for athlete's foot treatment, frequently fail
to contact the fungi in the horny layers of the skin. Topical
or oral antifungal drugs are prescribed with growing frequency.
In mild cases
of the infection it is important to keep the feet dry by dusting
foot powder in shoes and hose. The feet should be bathed frequently
and all areas around the toes dried thoroughly.
Consult Your Podiatrist
If an apparent fungus
condition does not respond to proper foot hygiene and self care,
and there is no improvement within two weeks, consult your podiatrist.
The podiatrist will determine if a fungus is the cause of the
problem. If it is, a specific treatment plan, including the prescription
of antifungal medication, applied topically or taken by mouth,
will usually be suggested. Such a treatment appears to provide
better resolution of the problem, when the patient observes the
course of treatment prescribed by the podiatrist; if it's shortened,
failure of the treatment is common.
If the infection
is caused by bacteria, antibiotics, such as penicillin, that
are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria may be prescribed.