Fungal Foot Infection Treatment in Chicago, IL

Fungal foot infections refer to rashes on the foot that are caused by fungus

Fungal Foot Infections Signs

Fungal infections of the feet and nails are common occurrences, especially for athletes. Fortunately, they are not usually serious enough to cause concern and are treatable. Dr. Schoene and Dr. Bever can help you understand what causes fungal nail infections and how to resolve them.

Fungal foot infections refer to rashes on the foot that are caused by fungus. Different types of fungus can cause these symptoms, but the scientific terminology for the most common types are tinea pedis and onychomycosis. However, most people refer to these infections with the common term “athlete's foot.”

Foot fungus can present with various skin symptoms. The affected skin can appear red, yellow, green, scaley, blistered, or cracked. In addition, the affected area can present with an itching sensation. Foot fungus can also cause blisters and odor. Less often, the infected skin can become thickened. While a fungal infection can occur anywhere on the foot, it most commonly affects toes and toenails.

If the toenail is infected, it may have different signs than a fungal skin infection. It may appear discolored brown, thickened, or cracked.

What Causes Fungal Infections?

Fungal infections occur when a susceptible area is exposed to fungi. A nail is more susceptible to fungus when it's cracked or damaged. Likewise, the skin covering the feet becomes more susceptible to fungus if it's cracked, broken, cut, or remains damp for extended periods of time.

The types of fungus that usually cause tinea pedis are epidermophyton floccosum, trichophyton interdigitale, and trichophyton rubrum. The types of fungus that are commonly responsible for onychomycosis are molds, dermatophytes, and yeasts.

In summary, fungal infections occur when there's a susceptible area is exposed to a fungus. It's important to note that these infections are contagious and can be spread through direct contact or exposed surface contact.

Image by woodleywonderworks is licensed with CC BY 2.0

What Are the Risk Factors?

While athlete's foot can happen to anyone, the infection gets its name from the fact that athletes are at an increased risk. This is due to a couple of factors. The feet and toes are more susceptible to fungal infections when the feet remain in a warm, damp environment. Therefore, if you wear athletic or closed shoes and continually sweat, you will be at a higher risk of developing a fungal infection.
In addition, if you're often barefoot in areas where mold is present or there is high traffic, you'll be at a greater risk of infection. Since athletes typically wear enclosed shoes, engage in strenuous exercise, and use locker rooms, they tend to experience athlete's foot at a greater rate than the general population.

A person's overall health is another factor that greatly affects their susceptibility to fungal infection. For example, individuals with diabetes are more likely to suffer from fungal infections on their feet. This is because diabetes often co-occurs with neuropathy, or reduced ability to feel, and peripheral artery disease, which causes reduced circulation. This can put people at an increased risk for injury to the foot; they may also have numbness in the feet, causing the infection to go undetected for a long period, leading to delayed care.

Besides diabetes, other conditions can increase your risk of experiencing fungal infections while making them more severe in the event they do occur. These conditions include anything that can alter your immune system. Autoimmune conditions, cancer, and their associated treatments all dysregulate your immune system. This can put you at an increased risk for infection while simultaneously decreasing your body's ability to deal with them.

"Excellent, thorough explanation of everything. Very friendly and approachable." "Just waiting for blood test results. Dr. Schoene took so much time with us at our first visit. She was very thorough. Never felt like she was rushing us out!"

- N.D.

How Can You Prevent a Fungal Infection?

As always, the best treatment is prevention. Preventing fungal infection keeps your feet in good health and saves you time and money on treatment. If you have diabetes, it's critical for you to perform regular examinations on your feet. This just entails you looking at your foot and visually confirming whether there are any areas of concern. If you notice any sores or traumas, be sure to treat them immediately. You should also take extra care not to cause cuts or injury to your toes when cutting your toenails. If you're unsure what to look for, how to care for your feet, or you notice a concern, see Dr. Schoene and Dr. Bever for diabetic foot care.

Other preventive steps include foot care measures, such as allowing your feet to air out and swapping shoes regularly to keep them dry. You can also help prevent infections by adding immune-boosting vitamins to your diet. In addition, if you have to expose your feet to public areas often, consider wearing shower shoes to reduce exposure. Most importantly, clean your feet regularly and pay extra attention to your toes and toenails.

How Are Fungal Infections Treated?

If you begin to suspect that you have a fungal infection, have it checked early. It's easier to get these infections under control if treatment is started early. A medical professional can confirm whether it is in fact a fungal infection and how to proceed. Certain topical treatments are effective in treating many cases of athlete's foot. These are widely available at grocery and drug stores, easy to use, and work well for mild cases.
It may be necessary to take an oral antifungal medication for a designated period. It's critical to take care of your nails while you are on treatment. This means keeping them clean and trimmed to prevent the harboring of bacteria. It also means wearing breathable footwear whenever possible and allowing your footwear to dry between uses.
If an infection of the toenail is already quite progressed or if you're at increased risk for complications, it may be necessary for the toenail to be removed.
Whether you suspect that you already have a fungal infection or are simply hoping to avoid contracting one, consult with Gurney Podiatry & Sports Medicine Associates. We can advise you on both prevention and treatment to get and keep your feet healthy and fungus free. We even have products that can help strengthen your nails and prevent infections.

" I was made to feel very welcome when I came for my first appointment . The staff is so friendly and compassionate. Dr. B was GREAT! 

- M.M.

She always keeps in mind the movements of each sport and incorporates that into the treatment plan.