Athlete’s foot is one of those conditions that’s more gross and nasty than
debilitating, although it may seem like a serious annoyance. Like a monster
in a bad science fiction film, the fungus that causes athlete’s foot (the
tinea fungus) lives off of human flesh, quite literally. It tends to thrive
in damp, dark places, like the inside of your shoe (particularly when your
feet are sweaty). And, despite the name, it doesn’t affect just athletes
(although they may be particularly susceptible because of sweaty feet and
shared locker rooms and showers).
Athlete’s foot is likely to be spread by contact with contaminated damp
surfaces, such as those found in locker rooms, showers and swimming pools.
Therefore, wearing shoes in such areas, or washing and drying feet
immediately after contact, will help prevent infection. The fungus also
likes it best when your feet are nice and sweaty, so drying off your feet
and changing your socks and shoes frequently will help it feel decidedly
not at home, keeping it from hanging around.
The fungus that causes athlete’s foot usually causes a burning or itching
sensation in the affected area (which is often, although not always in the
feet). The skin is likely to become dry and scaly, and as the conditions
worsened, may become reddened and develop painful blisters. The fungus will
often show up on the sole of the foot (although it may occur in other areas
as well), and will sometimes spread to the areas between the toes and even
into the toenails, making the nails brittle and yellow. Adding insult to
injury, bacteria may take advantage of your foot’s weakened state and cause
To determine if you have athlete’s foot, your podiatrist will often inspect
the foot visually, checking for the symptoms listed above. He or she may
also scrape the skin to see if the fungus grows from a culture, or may
check the sample under a microscope. (However, cultures might take up to
three weeks to grow, so there isn’t always a quick 100% sure diagnosis.)
Getting rid of this clingy fungus usually involves a couple of different
methods: discouraging it from growing by making conditions less pleasant
for it, and using medication to kill it. Your podiatrist will likely
suggest that you take measures such as making sure to dry your feet
thoroughly after they become wet and changing your socks or shoes
frequently to prevent a damp environment from forming around your feet. He
or she may also prescribe medication (or suggest effective over-the-counter
meds) to combat and kill the fungus itself. Such medications often take the
form of creams, powders or sprays, although an oral anti-fungal medication
may be the most effective at getting rid of a deep-seated fungal infection.
If a bacterial infection is also present, your podiatrist will likely also
prescribe some form of anti-bacterial medication.
Because this fungus can be pretty persistent, sticking with your
podiatrist’s suggested treatment method may be crucial in getting rid of
the infection. Don’t stop halfway through the treatment, even if the area
looks like it’s cleared. Stick with it, and you may be able to say a
permanent (or at least lengthy) goodbye to your unwelcome fungal visitors.
Call 719-543-2476 today to schedule your appointment!