Athlete’s Foot

You might think of athlete’s foot as more of an irritating nuisance than a serious problem. While there’s a kernel of truth to that, the bigger reality is this: athlete’s foot should never be underestimated!

At best, athlete’s foot leaves your feet feeling itchy and uncomfortable, while scratching only makes things worse. But if you don’t treat it, athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of your body—including your toenails, where it leads to a much more difficult-to-treat condition. It can even spread to other people!

The good news is that most mild cases of athlete’s foot can be treated at home. But if you find that your itchy feet aren’t clearing up, or keep coming back again and again, don’t ignore the problem—give us a call!

What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is a skin infection caused by a fungus. These fungi, known as dermatophytes, feed on keratin, a protein that’s abundantly present in skin, nails, and even hair. They are also responsible for jock itch, ringworm, and toenail fungus.

The infection produces dry skin and a scaly, red rash that tends to be especially concentrated around the soles, the tops of your feet, and between your toes. If your athlete’s foot is especially severe, you may even develop blisters or ulcers. The itchiness is often worst immediately after taking off your socks.

Because athlete’s foot symptoms can be very similar to several other unrelated conditions, including eczema and psoriasis, we may need to examine a sample of your skin to confirm a diagnosis—especially if antifungal treatments are not working.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Now that you know athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus, you might be wondering where it came from and how you got it.

Although we can’t say for certain, the fungi tend to congregate in environments that are damp and humid. You may be more likely to contract athlete’s foot if you:

  • Wear damp socks or shoes.
  • Walk barefoot in public areas (especially places like locker rooms, pools, or gyms).
  • Sweat excessively.
  • Already have a related fungal infection (such as ringworm or fungal toenails).
  • Live with someone who has athlete’s foot, particularly if you share towels, linens, clothes, bath mats, etc.

Treating Athlete’s Foot at Home

The earlier you treat athlete’s foot, the more likely you’ll stop the condition from becoming severe or spreading to other areas of your body (or other people).

Most mild-to-moderate cases can be treated by using an over-the-counter topical antifungal cream or spray. Please read the treatment instructions on the package carefully and follow the entire treatment course to its fullest extent. Stopping treatments early, even if symptoms seem to have cleared up, can easily lead to a recurrence of the infection.

If your athlete’s foot does not clear up from home treatments, or keeps coming back again and again, give us a call.

Professional Treatment for Athlete’s Foot

The first step we’ll take is determining whether you actually have athlete’s foot or a different condition. Antifungals won’t work if you have eczema, for example, so it’s important to get the diagnosis right.

If athlete’s foot is confirmed, we may need to prescribe a stronger antifungal medication to eradicate the infection. Usually this is just a stronger topical, but you may need an oral antifungal medication if your case is especially severe.

After your athlete’s foot has cleared up, it’s important to make sure you don’t get re-infected! Continue to employ good prevention tactics:

  • Wash your feet daily, and dry them thoroughly.
  • Don’t wear damp socks or shoes. Rotate shoes daily to let them fully dry.
  • Apply antifungal powder or spray to your shoes each night.
  • Don’t go barefoot in public locations.
  • Don’t share clothes, unwashed towels, or skin and nail care products with others.
  • Treat all future skin or nail infections promptly.

Don’t let itchy, rashy feet make you miserable, and definitely don’t let it spread! If you need help containing or eliminating an existing case of athlete’s foot, don’t hesitate to call the team at Family Foot Care & Surgery. We are happy to help!