Athlete’s Foot – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 19 21:21 2019 Print This Article

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. It affects mostly men and young people attacking the area between the toes, soles of feet fingernails and toenails. This infection is caused by a fungus called tinea pedis. The fungus thrives in warm, damp environments, such as the locker rooms, health clubs, public showers, and indoor swimming pools. That explains why tinea pedis is called athletes foot: it occurs frequently among athletes who use these facilities. In some people tinea pedis can get so bad that it may form blisters. Not all foot rashes are tinea pedis, only those caused by fungus growing on the skin. If left untreated the condition can spread to other parts of the foot, hands and can even affect the face. This condition can cause a great deal of discomfort and can affect an individual’s quality of life. The skin involved may be red, swollen and may contain sticky fluid. Athlete’s foot occurs mostly among teenage and adult males. Athlete’s foot is uncommon in women and children under the age of 12. Athlete’s foot should not be ignored–it can be easily treated, but it also can be very resistant to treatment. Moisture, sweating and lack of proper ventilation of the feet present the perfect setting for the fungus of athlete’s foot to grow.

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects many people at some time in their lives. The condition easily spreads in public places such as communal showers, locker rooms and fitness centers. Athlete foot is caused by the ringworm fungus (“tinea” in medical jargon). Athlete foot is also called tinea pedis. The fungus that causes Athlete foot can be found on floors and in socks and clothing. The fungus can be spread from person to person by contact with these objects. However, without proper growing conditions the fungus will not infect the skin. Up to 70% of the population will have athletes foot at some time during their lives. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include dry skin, itching, burning, and redness of the feet. The symptoms are often apparent in the skin between the toes, where the infection usually starts. Blistering, peeling, cracking of the skin, and bleeding may occur. Sometimes the affected skin can appear white and wet on the surface. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can be found on floors and clothing, and the organisms require a warm, dark, and humid environment in order to grow. The infection spreads by direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. As the infection spreads, it may affect the soles of the feet or the toenails. The affected skin is also more vulnerable to bacteria that cause skin infection ( cellulitis ). This is particularly common in persons with diabetes, the elderly, and people with impaired function of the immune system.

Causes of Athlete’s Foot

Find common causes and risk factors of Athlete’s Foot

  • Ringworm fungus.
  • Contact with items such as shoes, stockings, and shower or pool surfaces.
  • The fungus can also be transmitted by contact with pets who carry it on their fur.
  • Athlete’s foot is usually caused by anthropophile fungi. The most common species are Microsporum, Epidermophyton and Trichophyton.
  • People with excessively sweaty feet are more prone to this condition.
  • A minor skin or nail injury, is a common cause of athlete’s foot.
  • It can be spread by direct skin-to-skin contact and indirectly through towels, shoes, floors, etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Itching.
  • Itchy blisters.
  • Soreness.
  • Cracking of the skin.
  • Pain and swelling.
  • Scaling.

Treatment for Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot can be treated locally with antifungal creams, sprays, liquids and powders that are available from pharmacists without a prescription. Fungicidal and fungistatic chemicals, used for athlete’s foot treatment, frequently fail to contact the fungi in the 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. Your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic if you have an accompanying bacterial infection.

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics may be necessary to treat secondary bacterial infections that occur in addition to the fungus.
  • Wear cotton socks (as they will help to absorb moisture), and change your socks daily.
  • The second part of treatment is the use of antifungal creams.
  • Many medications are available including miconazole, clotrimazole, etc.
  • Treatment should be continued for two weeks after the symptoms have disappeared to ensure the infection has been removed completely.
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