Athlete's foot has all sorts of cute commercials suggesting over the counter remedies, but those suffering with it know that there's nothing cute abut the condition. The condition is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. It's incredibly common, and you don't have to be an athlete to get it- you just need to have the right conditions for the fungus to grow.
Athlete's foot grows in damp, dark, warm environments. That's one reason it's so common for athletes: they wear sneakers! By choosing a more breathable shoe (look for mesh uppers and sides on athletic shoes), you're already part of the way to preventing athlete's foot. However, changing footwear alone won't keep this fungal skin disease away. Other factors that can increase your chances of getting athlete's foot include:
- use of immunosuppresants
- walking barefoot in showers, locker rooms, and poolside
- having diabetes or an immune condition
The signs of athlete's foot, singly or combined, include the following:
Itching and burning, which may increase as the infection spreads
Blisters, which often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling.
Athlete's foot 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 elsewhere. The organisms 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. You can infect others in your family if they touch things you have touched while you have athlete's foot.
This WebMD article shows a diagram of where you can expect athlete's foot to commonly manifest.
When Should You See a Podiatrist For Athlete's Foot?
If athlete's foot symptoms continue for more than 2 weeks, it's time to see a podiatrist. The more proactive you are, the quicker the condition will resolve.
At our podiatry practice, we're able to attack athlete's foot with much more effective methods than your over the counter items. Often, those over the counter chemicals aren't strong enough to penetrate the skin to where the fungus is living, and quickly prove themselves useless. With prescription medication, we can get the medicine where it needs to be to quickly attack the fungus and stop its spread. In the meantime, we'll work with you to determine the cause (particularly important if it was related to diabetes, as you'll likely have other issues present in your feet, such as reduced blood flow and neuropathy). We'll want you to keep your feet dry, and provide you with dusting powder to help with that. Depending on how advanced the infection is, we can see results as early as 2 - 4 weeks. If we've prescribed medication, you MUST continue taking it as long as you were prescribed to- otherwise, you risk reinfection, even if you don't SEE the rash anymore the fungus can still be present.
Let's fight athlete's foot together! If your feet have dry skin, are itchy and burning, and are red from inflammation- now is the time to get it under control! Contact our office in Southfield MI for an appointment.