Athlete’s Foot- What is it?
Tinea pedis (aka Athlete’s Foot) is a skin infection that affects about 15% of the population and you do not need to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot :). It is commonly found between the toes and on the soles of the feet. Sometimes the skin will appear cracked or blistered and sufferers will describe an intense itching and burning sensation which can be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating.
It is important to treat athlete’s foot when you realise you have a flare-up as small breaks in the skin can develop. Secondary bacterial infections can develop. Also, athlete’s foot can spread to the surrounding areas, such as your nails, scalp, underarms and groin area. If the fungal infection spreads into the nails, it will cause them to become thick and discoloured. If this happens, it can take several months or years to treat.
How does Athlete’s Foot develop?
Anyone can get athlete’s foot! But those who sweat a lot or work out often are more likely to develop this condition. This is due to the prolonged moisture on the skin.
Our bodies have natural protective films, a microorganism layer, mainly bacteria, and fungus, which over. This is known as our skin flora. The skin flora alerts our bodies when any abnormalities are detected. Normally these organisms live together in harmony, however, the fungus microorganisms are very opportunistic and dominate the skin flora. Fungus thrives in warm, dark, moist environments and can quickly multiply – causing athlete’s foot. Our shoes provide the perfect environment for fungus to grow.
Athlete’s foot can also spread from direct contact with the infected area. Places like gyms and changing facilities are areas where athletes’ foot are perfect breeding environments for fungal spores. Walking around barefoot allows for transmission of the fungal spores.
How do I treat Athletes Foot?
There are many broad-spectrum anti-fungal medications you can purchase over the counter, that will help treat your feet. There are creams, sprays, ointments, or powders and can take up to a few weeks to take effect. Your local pharmacist will be able to assist you with purchasing a treatment suitable for you. In persistent cases, it is advisable to seek advice from a health professional such as your local podiatrist, chiropodist, or GP.
However, it is super important to develop a good foot hygiene routine to prevent the infection from reoccurring. We often treat the infection on our feet but forget about our footwear. This means we are putting our healthy feet back into footwear laden with fungal spores and reinfection is almost certain.
Tip – always wash your hands before and after treatment to prevent cross-infection to other areas of the body.
Let’s stop Athlete’s Foot!
- Wash your feet regularly and make sure you dry them thoroughly, paying close attention to your toes and the spaces in between them. Ensure your feet are completely dry before putting your socks on!
- If you have sweaty feet, we would suggest cleaning your feet and changing your socks/tights more than once a day. If not, once a day should be sufficient.
Tip–alcohol hand gel is great for managing unwanted moisture on your feet.
- When in public places, such as changing facilities in the gym, always wear something on your feet!
- Don’t share towels, socks, or shoes with anyone. Towels and socks need washed at 60°c.
- Your shoes require 24-48 hours to fully dry out and reduce any bacterial or fungal load. This means the shoes you wear on Monday shouldn’t be worn again until at least Wednesday, especially gym shoes.
- You should use a fungal prevention treatment in your shoes regularly to prevent any build-ups.?
La Preme Clinic can help keep it away for good!
Visiting a podiatrist is advisable, especially with persistent and reoccurring athlete’s foot. We will be able to suggest a treatment plan best suited to you and the type of athlete’s foot you have and can help prevent the infection from spreading into the nails and other areas of the body.