Athletes foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the foot which causes itching, redness, pain, and scaling of the skin. It can occur anywhere in the foot, but is most commonly seen in the web spaces, heel, and sole of the foot. It is common among athletes because excessive sweating in closed toed sneakers creates a breeding ground for fungi which thrive in dark, moist environments. Athletes foot can be frustrating to treat, because fungi are resilient organisms which can colonize shoes and sneakers for long periods of time and cause reinfection.
Luckily, many treatments for athletes foot exist. The mainstay treatment is topical anti-fungal medication. If the infection is found on the sole or heel, topical anti-fungal creams are effective in treating athletes foot. However, if infection is found in the web spaces, a topical solution should be used. This is because creams cause more moisture to be trapped in the web spaces, making the environment conducive to more fungal growth. In more severe cases, or if topical medications fail to manage the infection, a short course of oral anti-fungal medication may be considered.
However, the most effective treatment is prevention. Keeping the feet clean and dry, especially in the web spaces, will help to prevent fungal growth. Be sure to change socks frequently and dry the feet well after bathing or showering. Athletes or those who sweat a lot should consider using talcum powder to prevent excessive sweat or moisture buildup.
Athletes foot can be painful, uncomfortable, and unsightly. Additionally, it can spread to other parts of the body since the fungal organisms that cause athletes foot are also responsible for jock itch, ring worm, and nail fungus. Do not delay management of this pesky infection – seek consultation with one of the doctors of Advanced Podiatry!