Dealing With Athletes Foot...

     Athlete's foot, a common fungal infection of the feet.

Every once in a while we have to cover a not so fun topic here at Doc's Fitness Tip's, well here it is, it's real, common, and most everyone has had to deal with it at some point if you are an athlete, active, shower at gyms, go barefoot, use public pools etc. It's Athletes Foot. Athlete's Foot, also called tinea pedis, is the most common type of fungal infection. I can stll can Hear John Madden every weekend during football season roaring about how to get rid of it, with tough actin Tenactin. Athlete's foot refers to a infection of the spaces between the toes, usually between the fourth and fifth toes, but not limited to that space. Although it is most often described as the infection between the toes, it may also affect the sole of the foot, the whole foot, and the nails. If it burns with an itch you can't scratch away, you probably got it. It may occur in association with other fungal skin infections, such as fungal infection of the toenails, feet or groin. The condition usually responds to self-care, provided that care is applied for long enough.
 Athlete's foot is an extremely common, and is the most persistent of the fungal infections. It affects most people at least once in their lives, and unless treated correctly and effectively, it can become persistent, and or recurrent. It lives on the dead tissues of the hair, nails, and outer skin layers. Athlete's foot may occur in association with other fungal skin infections such as jock itch. Jock itch is an infection of the groin area. Often Jock itch is secondary, as people scratch the foot, then the groin causing the infection to spread. Athlete's foot spreads rapidly in moist shared environments, like sports clubs change rooms and showers, department store change rooms, shoe stores, and your home. Once you have it, just walking barefoot on your home carpet can infect the whole house. Your body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms. Some may, under proper conditions, multiply rapidly and cause infections. The fungi that cause athlete's foot thrive in warm, moist areas. Fungi reproduce by creating spores sort of like seeds, and these spores can stay dormant in shoes, socks, bath mats and floors and, even if the surface is cleaned, they can remain viable and infect people at a later time.

Athlete’s Foot Typical Presentations:
  • inter-digital: this appears as moist, pink, white flaking skin between the toes with a reddened area in the splits in the skin. This is usually very itchy.
  • vesiculo-pustular: this presents as small blisters, usually in the arch area under the foot. The blisters have a small red halo, with a grey blister and a dark peak to the blister. They are very itchy, and burst easily when scratched. The itch soon abates when the blister is burst, but this just spreads the infection and causes more blisters to appear. Soon there will be a large area that will be peeling, with new blisters forming.
  • the dry scaly typethis appears as dry skin over the surface of the foot, and often it covers the entire foot. This is called a moccasin infection as it resembles the shape of a moccasin. The edges of the dry skin are slightly reddened with small flakes of skin around the edges of the infected areas. This is often not itchy symptomatic at all, and patients sometimes treat it with moisturizing creams, thinking it is dry skin. 
There are many over-the-counter preparations from pharmacies that are effective in treating athlete's foot. However people sometimes don't treat the condition for long enough and ignore re-infection from shoes and socks. This can lead to continuous re-infection. I found this out the hard way when I was living in the tropics and teaching scuba diving. My dive booties never dried completely and no matter how much anti-fungal I used on my feet, I kept reinfecting myself every morning when I put on my dive booties to start the day. In severe, widespread, or chronic infections a Podiatrist, or Dermatologist will be beneficial in treating the condition correctly. Keep the skin clean and dry. Wash thoroughly with soap and water and dry the area carefully and completely. Blow-drying the feet with a hair dryer removes excess water from the outer layers of skin and is more effective than drying with a towel. Wear clean socks and change socks and shoes as often as necessary to keep the feet dry. Wash your socks in anti-bacterial soap in hot water. Topical, over-the-counter anti-fungal powders or creams may be used to control the infection. Anti-fungal or drying powders may be used as a preventive measure if you are susceptible to athlete's foot, or if exposed frequently to areas where athlete's foot fungus is suspected like public showers, locker rooms or swimming pool decks. My favorite is Lotrimin powder spray. I carry it and use it whenever I'm in public areas as a preventative measure. Drying the feet thoroughly after bathing or swimming has been shown to be the best means to prevent the disorder. Wearing woolen or moisture wicking running socks also will allow moisture to be drawn away from your feet. Change the socks as frequently as needed to keep feet dry and, at least, on a daily basis. Shoes should be well ventilated and preferably made from organic material, such as leather. Spraying your footwear with a Lysol type product daily will help also. It may be helpful to alternate shoes daily, so each pair can dry completely between wearings. I hope you never have to deal with this infection but at some point it's more likely you will. So don't ignore it treat it often and long enough to make sure it's gone. Good Luck...

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