Athlete’s foot, medically termed as Tinea Pedis, is a common skin infection that occurs frequently in athletes due to their footwear and trainers. Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus named Trichophyton, which proliferates in moist and warm environments. Therefore, athlete’s foot is most likely to occur in warm regions of the foot or areas prone to sweat such as the toes and the skin between the toes. Athlete’s foot can occur on the soles of the feet as well.
It is true that athlete’s foot is contagious as long as you provide a suitable environment for the fungus to thrive. The infection can be transferred through direct contact and by sharing personal belongings such as towels, socks, beddings etc.
Teenagers and men are most susceptible to athletes’ foot, but anyone can contract the infection. There are some people who are more likely to have athlete’s foot than others, but it is not exactly known why. The condition is common in athletes because they wear closed footwear which causes sweating and increase in warmth of the foot during physical activity. However, athlete’s foot is common in athletes also because they tend to share common changing rooms and pools.
Athlete’s Foot Causes
Athlete’s foot occurs when the trichophyton fungus begins to grow on the skin of your feet. Athlete’s foot can affect the skin on the toes, in between the toes, the heels of your feet, in between the fingers and the palms of your hands.
Athlete’s foot is considered to be the most common Tinea fungal infection, which grows in warm and moist environments of your skin.
You are most likely to get athlete’s foot if:
- You wear closed shoes – especially the plastic lined ones
- You sweat a lot
- You keep your feet wet or wear shoes for prolonged periods of time
- Develop a minor injury of the skin or nail
Please remember athlete’s foot is contagious therefore it can be transferred through direct contact and sharing of personal belongings such as towels, napkins, beddings, footwear and socks.
Athlete’s Foot Symptoms
- Flaking or peeling of the affected regions of the skin
- Itchiness or burning
- Dry skin in mild conditions
- Thick, dry patches of the skin or blisters in severe cases
- In extreme cases, the affected skin may begin to crack causing bleeding
It is very important that you divide home treatment into two stages:
- Keep the affected areas of your skin clean and dry. This means you have to eliminate suitable factors for the fungus to thrive in. Avoid wearing closed shoes that may cause too much sweating and produce heat. It is better if you wear leather shoes than shoes made of plastic covering or synthetic materials. Wear absorbent cotton socks and make your footwear more breathable
- Treat the infection. You can use over-the-counter anti-fungal powders, creams or washes on the affected regions of your skin prescribed by your local Pharmacist. These are readily available at any local pharmacy. Use medication regularly until symptoms have resolved
Severe cases may require oral anti-fungal medication, which is only prescribed by your doctor. See your doctor if symptoms of athlete’s foot begin to worsen.
Athlete’s foot tends to return in most people, therefore, you must ensure that you take the necessary steps to prevent it from taking places again:
- Wear breathable, leather shoes or open shoes or sandals, whenever practical
- Wash your feet regularly and pat dry thoroughly to ensure that you do not create a suitable environment for fungus to grow in
- Use anti-fungal or talcum powders after drying your foot to make sure that they remain dry from sweat
- Wear sandals or flip-flops in communal changing rooms
- Wear cotton socks and change them every time they get wet
Contact us on (08) 9272 7359 if you would like advice on Athlete’s Foot and your foot wear. Happy Physio will also give you a complimentary Computer Foot Assessment to ensure there is even pressure going through your foot when walking and running – even pressure especially helps prevent athlete’s foot around the little toes.