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Getting To Grips With Athlete's Foot

AF

Athlete’s Foot also referred to as Tinea Pedis is a common skin infection caused by a fungus. It can manifest in the skin in three ways:

  • Interdigital (in-between the toes) maceration
  • Patches of skin identified by re current vesicular eruptions.
  • Sole of the foot covered with dry, scaly vesicular eruptions.

Athlete’s foot is caused by fungi growing and multiplying on the skin. Causes can be the type of environment where fungal infection flourishes which is warm, moist, dark spaces. The infection can be transmitted by cross infection from moist environments such as swimming pools, gyms and the use of a towel which has fungal pores off a previously infected individual. Athletes foot may also be caused by a weakened immune system and other medical conditions such as diabetes.

Athlete’s foot can easily spread to other people by touching infected skin or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

Clinical features include:

  • Itchiness.
  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Dry scaly skin
  • Redness
  • Exposed raw skin, maceration
  • Inflammation

There are many conventional over the counter anti-fungal medications (Dacktarin, Lamisil) as well as alternative treatments (Tea tree oil) for fungal skin infections, including athlete’s foot. Important with any treatment plan is the practice of good hygiene. Several placebo controlled studies report that good foot hygiene alone can cure athlete’s foot even without medication in 30-40% of the cases. Find out more about treatment for Athletes foot here

The infection can spread around your foot and to your toenails. Scratching the infected skin and then touching other parts of your body can also spread the infection. In severe cases, skin damaged by athlete’s foot can become infected with bacteria. This can lead to cellulitis which causes the skin to become red, hot and swollen.

Since athlete’s foot thrives in moist environments it is important for individuals to reduce hyperhidrosis (sweating excessively). The use of surgical spirit is often advised after infection is cleared to have an astringent affect.

Tips on avoiding Athlete’s Foot

  • Always dry thoroughly in between your toes
  • Avoid walking around bare feet in communal areas such as the public showers and locker rooms
  • Maintain good foot hygiene
  • Air your feet as much as you can
  • Don’t use moisturiser between your toes, as this can help fungi multiply
  • Use talcum powder on your feet to stop them getting sweaty
  • Don’t share towels, socks and shoes with other people, and ensuring your towels are washed regularly

For more advice, please contact Central FootClinic here

Blog compiled by By Nabila Shaheen, Podiatrist, Central FootClinic

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