You’ve seen the commercials with old sports stars, and you know the term, but what exactly is athlete’s foot? Technically called tinea pedis, it’s a fungal infection that starts between the toes. The name refers to the fact that it is often caused by sweaty feet being confined in tight fitting shoes – and let’s face it, that sounds like almost every athlete out there. Here’s what you need to know to help recognize and treat your fungal infection.
Spotting the Symptoms
If you have the dreaded rash, you’ll know as soon as you take off your shoes. You’ll experience an itchy sensation. In between your toes the skin will likely be red and peeling off. You may also experience blisters along with the rash, and it can extend up the sides of the foot, which is why the condition is sometimes confused with eczema.
Causes of Catching it
Caused by the same fungus that is responsible for jock itch and ringworm, it grows in moist damp warm areas like sweaty socks. It is also contagious, so if you touch an infected area or shake the hands of a person who has just touched their fungal infection, you could contract it as well. Also, locker rooms are dangerous because people walk around barefoot and can spread it unknowingly – that’s why you should always wear shoes in public areas, including showers.
Tests and Examinations
Mark Gasparini, D.P.M. can often just look at the rash and know that it’s athlete’s foot, but sometimes you will need to have a scraping of the infected area taken so that it can be examined closer under a microscope. Also, looking at the affected area under a black light will help confirm the diagnosis.
For mild cases, an over-the-counter cream or foot powder will help clear up the infection. If the condition doesn’t respond, a stronger medication can be prescribed to eliminate the problem. If the rash still persists, antifungal pills may help. Athlete's foot can also lead to fungal nails, so treatment is recommended.
- Once you get athlete’s foot, it can often recur, so follow these tips to stay fungal-free:
- Dry your feet thoroughly after every shower —especially the space between your toes—and when at home, walk around barefoot to let your feet air out.
- Change your socks! When you’re working out or playing a sport, you will likely get sweaty. Make sure to wear clean, dry socks, and switch them more than once a day if need be.
- Avoid rubber and vinyl shoes. You want shoes with ventilation, which allow your feet to breathe. Materials like leather, mesh, and canvas are best.
- Be proactive. Use powders or antifungal spray daily, on your feet as well as in your shoes.
- Wear shower shoes in public places like locker rooms and pools.
- Don’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes! Sharing your footwear can spread the infection.
If you are suffering from athlete’s foot and live in the Bethpage NY community, Mark Gasparini, D.P.M. can help. You can schedule an appointment by calling (516) 804-9038. Don’t’ let your love of sports keep you from having happy healthy feet. Remember to follow the tips above to stay fungal infection-free.
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