Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis to give it its medical name, is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes.
The fungus grows best in warm, moist environments. It occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty, making the perfect breeding environment for the fungus to grow on the skin of the feet. The condition commonly spreads in showers and around swimming pools, where people are exposed to the fungus by walking barefoot.
- Having a history of fungal infection on the feet
- Walking barefoot in areas where the infection spreads
- Not cleaning or drying the feet properly
- Wearing tight-fitting shoes or boots
- Having sweaty feet
- Being in a warm and wet environment
- Having a weak immune system
- Dry skin
- Itching (that is often worst when the infection spreads)
- Scaly, red rash
- Whitened and wet skin between the toes
- Blisters or ulcers
Infection usually begins between the toes and can spread to the soles, toes, and nails.
The doctor will ask about the symptoms and any medications used. Next, the doctor may take skin scrapings or samples from the infected areas and send the samples to a lab to be tested.
Treatment requires internal or external antifungal medications. Over-the-counter antifungal medications can be used. If the condition doesn’t improve after 2 weeks of self-treatment, you should see a doctor who may suggest antifungal pills or prescription-strength medications. Take the full course of medications and do not stop taking them before the end of the prescribed course, even if the symptoms have improved. Always be sure to wash your hands before applying the medications to your feet.
Good Foot Hygiene
- Clean your feet with soap and water, and dry your feet – and between the toes.
- Change your shoes and socks regularly.
- Lay your shoes out in the sun from time to time.
- If infected, avoid using communal swimming pools, as it may spread a fungal infection.
As always, the best form of treatment is to prevent the condition from occurring in the first place. Fungal prevention is not easy. However, it is important to keep your feet clean and dry, and not share shoes.