Athlete’s foot: Signs, Causes, and Treatments

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If you have experienced itchiness, soreness, and dry skin on your feet, there is a possibility that you could have had an athlete’s foot. There are many reasons why you might have had an athlete’s foot, and most people do not even notice it right away. Some skin conditions can also be mistaken for an athlete’s foot(nails). So in this article, we’ll be discussing what an athlete’s foot is, its causes, and how to treat and prevent it from happening.

What is an athlete’s foot?

Also called “tinea pedis”, an athlete’s foot is a type of infection caused by fungus. This infection causes the top layer of the skin to get irritated and itch. This fungal infection thrives in a moist and warm environment like inside our shoes. Although an athlete’s foot can be treated and is not that of a serious condition, it is contagious and not easily discovered as it can also be mistaken for just a normal health rash. 

People who are at risk of having an athlete’s foot

  • People who share footwear(socks and shoes) or towels with a person who has an athlete’s foot.
  • People with sweaty feet.
  • People with minor skin or nail injuries on their feet.
  • Wearing tight, closed-toe shoes.
  • Having wet feet for a long time.
  • People who visit public places barefoot(such as locker rooms, shower rooms, and swimming pools).

Symptoms

  • Cracking and peeling of dry skin on your feet. This is common to find between your toes and on your soles.
  • Dry skin around your feet(soles, between the toes, etc.).
  • Itching, stinging, and burning sensation between your toes or on the soles of your feet.
  • Itchy blisters on your feet.
  • Discolored, thick, and crumbly toenails.

Causes  

An athlete’s foot can be caused by directly getting infected by a fungus that is on surfaces like floors in public places that are damp and warm like shower rooms and swimming pool areas. It can also be passed on from someone who has an athlete’s foot by sharing unwashed socks, slippers, and/or shoes.

How to treat an athlete’s foot

An athlete’s foot can often be treated with over-the-counter(OTC) topical and oral antifungal medicines. If OTC medications don’t treat your infection, your doctor may prescribe topical or oral prescription of stronger medications.

Here are some OTC medications for an athlete’s foot:

  • Miconazole
  • Butenafine
  • Tolnaftate
  • Terbinafine
  • Clotrimazole
  • For home remedies, you can try to soak your feet in warm water with salt or vinegar at home to clean and help dry the blisters. A tea tree oil solution can also help reduce swelling and blistering.

Prevention

  • Wear socks that can absorb moisture. Cotton is the best material for socks. Avoid wearing synthetic materials if you plan on wearing socks for a long time. 
  • Wash your feet regularly with soap and water. 
  • Wear open shoes or sandals when possible. 
  • Wear slippers and avoid walking barefoot when in public showers, near swimming pools, or hot tubs.
  •  If you have sweaty feet, change your socks daily(more than once a day if needed).
  • Dry your feet after a bath or shower, wipe your feet with a towel and let them dry completely before putting on socks or shoes.
  • Sprinkle talcum powder to absorb moisture from your feet. 
  • Wash socks and towels in hot water after using them to sterilize them deeply.

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