What is it?
Athlete’s foot is a skin infection caused by a micro-organism called a fungus. It’s very easy to catch, but luckily enough, it’s also not a serious condition. You can get it from walking around barefoot in warm,damp places, or by coming in contact with the skin of someone already has it. The feet, being warm and often a bit damp especially between the toes, are a perfect place for this fungus to grow.
What are the symptoms?
Athlete’s foot can cause lots of different symptoms.
• You may have itchy feet, especially between your toes.
• You may have soggy, whitish skin between your toes.
• The soles of your feet may get dry and flaky.
• You may have red patches on your skin with a white, wet-looking surface.
• The skin on your feet may get thickened.
• You may get blisters.
This condition may sometimes be complicated by a bacterial infection, making the skin to be hot, red and swollen. It is important to see your doctor when this occurs.
What treatments work?
Athlete’s foot can usually be taken care of without having to see a doctor. Drugs from your local pharmacy may be bought without a prescription. They come as creams and sprays that are applied on the feet, and these all work equally well in a majority of people.
• Those containing terbinafine get rid of athlete’s foot after about one week to four weeks. A mild rash or itch may occur with use, but this goes away when you stop.
• Products that contain an azole take about four weeks to six weeks to get rid of athlete’s foot. They go by the trade names Canesten, Daktarin and Nizoral. They might sting and make your skin look red and scaly while you use them.
• Ones that contain tolnaftate (common brand name Tinaderm-M) may slightly irritate your skin during use.
There are tablets and capsules you can take for athlete’s foot. But they are not any better than the ones already mentioned, and they probably cause more side-effects like indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea, headaches, and rashes. They are available only on prescription when other treatments have failed.
Things you can do for yourself
Good feet hygiene may not get rid of athlete’s foot once you have it, but it will usually help you avoid getting it again. Helpful tips include:
• Wear open shoes and sandals when you can (not for diabetics).
• Allow your feet enough air whenever you can.
• If you have diabetes, you can let your feet get some air, but don’t walk around
barefoot or in open shoes.
• Put on clean socks every time.
• Wear cotton, silk, or wool socks rather than synthetic (nylon) ones.
• Always let your shoes dry each day before putting them on again.
• After you have a bath or shower, dry your feet carefully, especially between your toes.
• If you’ve had athlete’s foot, spray the inside of your shoes with a spray to kill the fungus.
What will happen to me?
Athlete’s foot isn’t serious, but when you don’t treat it properly, it may spread to your fingernails and your toenails, when it becomes harder to treat. It’s a good idea to always wear something on your feet to avoid spreading the infection to other people.