Around 15% of the population have tinea pedis (fungal infections of the feet), or more popularly known as athlete’s foot. Runners, swimmers, basketball, baseball, soccer, and water polo players experience athlete’s foot in epidemic proportions.
So if you don’t want to be afflicted by that glamorous athlete’s foot, be extra careful of places such as public swimming pools, locker rooms, and public showers. Researchers have documented the presence of fungi that cause athlete’s foot in large quantities on locker room floors, shower stalls, and pool decks.
What causes foot rashes?
Athlete’s foot is one of the most common type of fungal infections. It is caused by fungi (dermatophytes) that live on dead tissues of the toenails, outer skin layers, and hair. These fungi thrive in dark, warm, and moist places such as shoes, socks, and stockings – they grow in the area between your toes.
Considering their personal hygiene and daily activities, this infection is most prevalent among teenage men to middle-aged men. This condition also affects people with weak immune systems and those who sweat excessively
Is athlete’s foot contagious?
Athlete’s foot transfers easily. You can have the condition just by touching the toes of the infected person. It is usually transferred through contact with an abrasion or cut on the bottom of the foot. You can also get it when you walk barefoot in locker rooms or near public swimming pools.
The fungi then grow in your shoes, especially if your shoes are so air-tight that air cannot move around your feet. In some cases, athlete’s foot can be transmitted to humans from infected animals.
What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?
This infection is generally manifested by a rash on the skin of the foot, especially on the skin between the toes or sole of the foot. The skin may crack or peel. Symptoms vary depending on the types of fungal infection you have.
The first type of athlete’s foot, the toe web infection, commonly occurs in the skin between the fourth and fifth toes. The skin grows soft, and then becomes scaly. The area affected inflames and is sensitive to touch. As the infection worsens, the skin peels and eventually cracks. The affected skin can also be infected by bacteria, making the skin condition worse.
In the second type of fungal infection, the moccasin-type infection, the condition starts with a slight soreness on the foot. The skin on your heel becomes dense and scaly and gradually thickens and cracks. In extreme cases, toenails can also get infected – they thicken, crumble, and fall out.
The third type of tinea pedin is the vesicular infection. In this type, raised ridges or bumps develop on the top of your foot. However, blisters can also develop anywhere on your foot. The person having this type of athlete’s foot experiences intense itching. There is less skin peeling, however.
What is the treatment for athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is persistent and thus difficult to treat. It is best to treat it before the infection firmly establishes itself on the skin. In most cases, the infection is treated using over-the-counter cream, lotion, powder, or spray.
For extreme cases, doctors give the patient a prescription for pills or medicine. Imidazole drugs such as clotrimazole, miconazole, and itraconazole are commonly prescribed to stop the infection by targeting the fungal cell wall enzymes, which inhibits growth and reproduction of fungi. Allylamines can also combat stubborn athlete’s foot.
But the best treatment remains prevention. You have to watch your personal hygiene. Keep your feet dry and clean all the time. You can use talcum powder to keep your feet dry. Wear clean socks and shoes that let air move around your feet. In addition, wear sandals if you’re in a public shower or locker rooms.