Athlete’s foot or Dry Skin: What’s the Difference?

I have dry, scaly, itchy, feet. Does this mean I have Athlete’s foot?

Tinea pedis commonly known as athletes foot is a foot problem facing up to 70% of the world population. It is typically caused by a fungus called Tricophyton rubrum (T. rubrum) which can invade the skin of the foot and also in-between the toes. In more severe cases the infection can cause blistering and be painful to the patient. T. rubrum can be spread easily between family members through contact with infected skin or in damp areas such as public showers, pools, and restrooms.

Athlete’s foot can be identified by the red, scaly, itchy, and occasionally blistering skin that appears on the bottom of the foot and in-between the toes. The itchy symptom may or may not be present initially but if the infection progresses the itching will have a higher prevalence. The blistering that appears can be mild to severe depending on if treatment is delayed. The blisters can be very large and if popped will leak yellow “serous” fluid and can become infected if left untreated. Infection with a bacteria can be very detrimental to the feet and in extreme cases can lead to a loss of limb. So, it is very important, especially in patient’s with diabetes to seek treatment quickly if any symptoms of athlete’s foot appear.

First line treatment of tinea pedis is typically an anti-fungal foot cream which can easily be found at your local drug store. Miconazole, Terbinafine, Sertaconazole, and Tolnaftate are just a few of the topical creams that aid in getting rid of foot fungus. Typically if one cream does not work then your doctor will consider utilizing a different cream in order to help remedy the infection. Studies have shown that the use of oral terbinafine can also be very helpful in treating foot and nail fungus. Some circles even consider this as the gold standard in treating foot fungus. Although the oral anti fungal medicine is not for everyone it is a safe and effective method when used appropriately.

Keeping your environment clean is also essential in treating athlete’s foot. So what does a clean environment entail? Making sure you clean the inside of your shoes regularly with either a anti-fungal spray or use a device like the steri-shoe to help keep the T. rubrum to a minimum. The more we decrease the fungus in our environment the less chance we will have of reinfection. An interesting study was done recently where effectiveness of treating tinea pedis was increased by also treating the people that live with you. That means any family member who is symptomatic with the infection should be treated. This will greatly reduce the risk of reinfection among people living in your household. The patient also has to realize that this fungal infection is going to be chronic and therefore our treatments will have to be long term and possibly for life.

Finally, diabetic patients should be very thorough when analyzing their feet at home. If any sign of fungal infection or any skin problem occurs please notify your podiatrist so that you can begin appropriate treatments immediately. In order to preserve our skin and health of our feet we must remain vigilant when tending to our feet so that we can avoid unnecessary problems in the future. At Advanced Podiatry we utilize evidence based medicine when treating foot fungus and we will continue to keep up with better technologies and treatment in order to remedy your foot ailments efficiently and safely.

Please do not hesitate to call if you have any concerns regarding foot fungus. 813-875-0555 Let us help you keep your feet healthy and happy always.

Best Regards,

Dr. Jairo B. Cruz Jr