Athlete’s Foot, Not Only in Athletes
Tinea pedis, comm only known as Athlete's foot is a fungal infection caused by Trichophyton rubrum. This fungal infection affects the feet’s skin and may extend to the toenails as well as in the hands. Athlete’s foot is an irritating condition in all ages, men, women, girls, and boys but often seen with athletes and men than women. It is difficult to treat but is not a critical illness and not associated with mortality and morbidity.
The causative agent for Athlete’s foot belongs to the variety of fungi called dermatophytes. Fungi responsible for jock itch and ringworm also falls under dermatophytes. An environment that is damp, warm, and closed is where fungi thrive. It is communicable and can be transmitted by direct exposure to the infection.
Factors that increase the chance of getting athlete’s foot are:
- Going to public places (shower, locker rooms, and swimming pools) barefooted.
- Wearing of closed-toe and tight-fitting shoes.
- Towels, shoes, and socks that are shared with an individual with athlete’s foot.
- Letting the foot moistened or wet for a prolonged span of time.
- Sweaty feet.
- Small laceration of the skin or nails on the foot.
Itching, red blisters, stinging, and burning sensation on the soles of the feet and in between the toes are the symptoms of athlete’s foot. Manifestations of the infection also include scaling, red rash, and dryness of the skin. This condition can affect one or both feet and can affect the hands if it is used to pick or scratch the infected area.
If an individual is with weak immune system and diabetes and presumes to have athlete’s foot, consult your physician immediately.
The most common diagnostic method to diagnose athlete’s foot is by skin lesion potassium hydroxide (KOH) exam. Cells that are infected stay untouched when treated with potassium hydroxide when viewed under a microscope. A minute area of the infected skin is scraped off and places in KOH. It is also diagnosed by its symptoms alone but skin test is done to be certain.
Athlete’s foot may be treated with over-the-counter topical antifungals such as lotions, powders, spray, cream, and ointments. A home remedy in which the feet are soaked in salt water or vinegar solution may aid in drying blisters. Consulting a physician is a must when athlete’s foot does not respond to OTC medications. The physician may prescribe medicine for athlete’s foot. Prescription medications include topical miconazole or clotrimazole; topical steroids (for inflammation); oral antifungals such as fluconazole, itraconazole, or terbinafine; or oral antibacterial for raw skin and blister.
Pointers to avoid getting athlete’s foot are:
- Wearing sandals in public places.
- Wear shoes with breathable materials.
- Restrict from sharing towels, shoes, and socks with others.
- Change socks every day or when feet are sweaty.
- Apply antifungal powder on the feet every day.
- Wash feet with water and soap and dry it thoroughly.