Most people will have heard about athlete’s foot or may even have had or known someone who has had it. This incredibly common condition can cause the skin on your feet to become itchy and flaky. This is not a very serious condition however can be distressing for the person who has it and it is best to treat it as soon as possible. This infection can spread if it is not treated early and an infection that has spread becomes much more difficult to treat. This article focuses on the latest research and information to help you recognize and deal with this common condition.
What is it?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection that is really easy to catch. Some of the more common places that people seem to acquire the infection are in the showers in public places or in the changing rooms when they are walking around barefoot. A fungus grows best in warm, damp and most environments and for this reason the above places provide a perfect growing environment. Another way to get the infection is by coming into contact with someone else who has the condition. Feet are the perfect place for these fungi to inhabit as they spend most of the time in the warm and moist environment of your shoes and socks. Also your feet are covered in keratin and this is what the fungi feed on and use to grow and reproduce.
Some of the things that you may notice if you have this condition are: itchy feet most commonly between the toes, blistering of the feet may become a common occurrence, soles of your feet may become flaky and dry, skin between your toes may become soggy, the skin on the bottom of your feet may thicken and you may notice red patches on the skin that may have a white and wet looking surface. Skin that becomes red, swollen and warm to the touch may be infected with bacteria and antibiotics will be required to treat this. You should see your doctor if you think that this may be the case as bacterial infections can be dangerous.
Athlete’s foot is actually treatable without having to visit your doctor. You can go straight to your pharmacy and buy the necessary medications to get rid of this common fungal infection. Treatments that are available come in many forms, such as sprays, creams and lotions that can be applied to the feet. All of the treatments tend to be equally effective and get rid of athlete’s foot 70% of the time. Treatments containing terbinafine take about one to four weeks to work and one of the common brand names is lamisil. You may obtain a small rash or find that your foot is itchy during treatment, however this will go away after treatment. There are numerous forms of medications known as azoles and these help to fight the fungi. Some of the medications in this group are clotrimazole, econazole, miconazole, ketoconazole and sulconazole. Sometimes these can make you skin look scaly and red but this will go away after treatment. Another type of medication known as undecenoate comes a liquid that you need to apply to the skin of your foot. This can sometimes irritate your foot but once again will go away after treatment.
There are also numerous things that you can do yourself to stop you from getting this annoying infection. Keeping your feet clean and dry can help you to prevent the condition in the first place; however there is no evidence to show that this helps once you already have the condition. You should let your feet get air whenever you can and avoid going barefoot in those places that you may pick up the disease. You should put on clean socks everyday and try to wear cotton or wool socks rather than nylon ones. You must dry your feet thoroughly after having a shower ensuring that you dry carefully between your toes. You can also spray the inside of your shoes with an antifungal spray if you have recently had athlete’s foot to kill any fungi that may still be in there.
Tablets and capsules can be used to treat the condition, however these are no more effective than those that you put directly on your foot and also direct treatments tend to have fewer side effects. If you have tried many treatments then your doctor may prescribe you a tablet or capsule as a last resort. Some of the tablet names are fluconazole, ketoconaole, terbinafine and itraconazole. Your doctor must prescribe these, as you cannot simply buy them from your chemist.
This is not a serious condition and treatments that you apply to your foot will get rid of this common condition in 70% of cases. If it goes untreated then the infection will spread and make go on to involve the toenails and then fingernails, in this case it will be harder to treat. You should try and avoid going barefoot in places where you could obtain the infection and practice good foot hygiene.