Athlete’s foot (or tinea pedis) is a skin infection in the foot caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can be found on floors and in socks and clothing. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are also susceptible breeding grounds for fungi.
Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails and can also 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 fungus can be spread from person to person by contact with these objects.
Athlete’s foot includes one or more of the following symptoms: itching and burning feet, dry skin, scaling, inflammation, and blisters. In more severe cases, the skin may crack and bleed. When the skin is injured by the fungus (such as with blisters or cracking), bacteria can also invade the skin. These bacteria can cause a bad odor and inflammation. This is especially likely to occur in the elderly, individuals with diabetes, chronic leg swelling, or who have had veins removed (such as for heart bypass surgery), and patients with impaired immune systems.
How can Athlete’s Foot be treated?
It is important to keep infected area clean and dry, thus less suitable for the fungus to grow. A quality medicated foot powder can help keep feet dry. Antifungal creams and antifungal pills may be necessary treatment and may need to be continued for up to four weeks.