Athletes Foot – Tinea Pedis

What is  Athletes Foot and how do I get it?

Tinea Pedis, otherwise known as athletes foot, is a fungal infection of the skin surrounding the foot. This fungal infection is very comathletes-foot-300x203mon in all populations but is more prevalent in humid environments.The Florida climate is a perfect breeding ground for fungus and as a result it makes it fairly easy to get an infection.

One can get Athletes foot from any environment but moist climates will increase the likelihood of infection.  Tight sweaty shoes, swimming pools, locker rooms, public showers, and communal areas, are places where you get fungal infections.  By simply walking in these areas, the microscopic fungus attaches to the skin and will thrive on the dead skin, hair, and toenails of the foot.  Adding moisture from sweat or the surrounding environment helps to maintain a perfect home for the new found fungus. 

What are the symptoms of Athletes Foot?

The symptoms of Athletes foot can vary from person to person.  Most commonly the complaints are redness, itching, burning, cracking skin, scaling skin, and blisters.  A mild case of Athletes Foot will present with scaling skin and minimal itching.  A severe case of fungal infection will present with blistering, pain, and fluid in the area.  These infections can worsen if you get a secondary bacterial infection. These severe infections can lead to hospitalization and the need for intravenous antibiotic therapy. 

There are three different types of Athletes Foot that can occur.  Interdigital, moccasin, and vesicular tinea pedis.  Interdigital tinea presents with burning, itching, and scaling, in-between the toes and can also have a bad odor.  Moccasin type tinea is where there is scaling skin surrounding the sole of the foot which resembles the outline of a moccasin on the foot.  Itching, dryness, and burning can also be present with the scaling.  Finally there is vesicular tinea where there is blistering of the skin that can be painful, with itching and burning.

How do I diagnose Athletes Foot?

The podiatrist will be able to look at the foot and assess whether or not you have a fungal infection.  He/She will be looking for the common signs and symptoms typically experienced by a patient with a fungal infection.  The podiatrist may also perform a skin biopsy to have it analyzed in a lab to confirm the diagnosis.  This biopsy is painless and is performed in the office during the doctor’s physical examination of the foot.

How do you treat Athletes Foot?

Treating Athletes Foot is typically done with topical anti fungal medications.  There is a wide range of topical creams being used in the market but at Advanced Podiatry we strive to keep the options simple in order to treat the foot infection efficiently.  We also use urea cream with our topical anti fungal medication to ensure superior penetration of the medication into the skin.  Treatment with the topical cream lasts two to four weeks and is applied twice daily to the feet.  If necessary we will also consider oral anti fungal medications only if the severity of the infection is high.  The oral medications can be effective but are only used if needed.  Topical creams are the standard first line treatment and the use of oral medication is rare.  Proper hygiene of the feet is also very important to help prevent the infection.   Drying the feet thoroughly after a shower is an important step in preventing fungal growth as well. 

How is Athlete’s Foot prevented?

Proper foot hygiene is crucial in maintaining fungal free feet.  Soap and water must be used to clean in-between the toes and the entire foot.  Drying the feet after prevents fungus from growing in between the toes and all around the foot.  Any moist environment can help increase the fungal load to the foot so keeping your feet dry is just as important as washing them daily.  Changing out of sweaty socks and shoes into clean and dry ones is a very effective way to help prevent infection.  Try to avoid wearing the same shoes every day, let them air out. Avoiding barefoot walking in common areas such as pools, locker rooms, and bathrooms will help prevent exposure to fungal elements. 

Content provided by Advanced Podiatry

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