Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin that affects your feet. It’s a common condition, particularly among athletes and those who regularly participate in physical activities that involve sweating or contact with communal surfaces, such as swimming pools, gyms, or locker rooms. Our team at Gurnee Podiatry & Sports Medicine Assoc. wants to share with you the causes, symptoms, and treatments for athlete’s foot.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection that affects the skin on your feet, causing itching, burning, and scaling. It’s a common condition that can be caused by several factors. The most common cause of athlete’s foot is a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, and public showers. When you walk barefoot in these areas, you can pick up the fungus, which then grows on the skin of your feet.
The fungus can also spread from person to person through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as towels or socks. If you share these items with someone who has athlete’s foot, you’re at risk of getting the infection.
Poor foot hygiene can also contribute to the development of athlete’s foot. If you don’t wash your feet regularly or dry them thoroughly after showering or swimming, you create a damp environment that’s ideal for fungal growth. Wearing sweaty or damp socks and shoes for extended periods can also increase your risk of getting athlete’s foot.
Certain factors can make you more susceptible to athlete’s foot. These include having a weakened immune system, diabetes, or a history of athlete’s foot. People who sweat excessively or have previously had a nail fungus are also more likely to develop the infection.
How To Tell if You Have Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot typically presents with a range of symptoms, which may vary in severity. Listed below are some of the most common symptoms of athlete’s foot.
Itchy, Red Skin
The affected area may be red and scaly with small pinpoint blistering. Itching may be absent, mild, or severe and may worsen over time. Your skin may become dry and flaky, and you may notice small blisters or cracks.
People with athlete’s foot may experience a burning sensation on their feet. This feeling can be mild or severe and may be accompanied by itching or stinging. The sensation may worsen after exercise or when your feet are exposed to heat.
Another symptom of athlete’s foot is a foul odor emanating from your feet. This odor is caused by the growth of fungi and bacteria on the skin. The smell may be particularly strong after exercise or when your feet are wet.
Some people with athlete’s foot may also notice peeling skin on their feet. Your skin may appear to be flaking or shedding, particularly between the toes. This is a common symptom caused by the fungus affecting the outer layer of the skin.
In some cases, athlete’s foot can also lead to toenail infections. This is known as onychomycosis and can cause the toenail to become thick, discolored, and brittle. The nail may also become separated from the nail bed, and there may be a foul odor present.
If you suspect that you have athlete’s foot, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly. A doctor, dermatologist, or podiatrist, such as Dr. Schoene, can diagnose this condition and recommend the appropriate treatment.
What To Do if You Have Athlete’s Foot
The treatment for athlete’s foot will depend on the severity of the infection and the underlying cause. In general, however, the following steps can help to alleviate symptoms and promote healing:
In some cases, athlete’s foot may be more severe or may not respond to over-the-counter treatments. In these cases, your doctor may recommend prescription-strength antifungal creams, oral antifungal medications, or other treatments.
How To Prevent Athlete’s Foot
Preventing athlete’s foot involves taking simple steps to keep your feet clean, dry, and healthy. Some tips to prevent athlete’s foot include the following:
In conclusion, athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that can be prevented by taking certain precautions. You can significantly reduce your risk of contracting this infection by keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing the proper footwear, using antifungal products, and practicing good foot hygiene. If you do develop athlete’s foot, it’s essential to seek treatment promptly to prevent it from spreading to other parts of your body. Come in and see Dr. Bever and Dr. Schoene and let us help you love your feet again.