Athlete’s foot is a fungal
infection of the foot, also known
as tinea pedis. It’s a fairly common condition – about 70% of the population will suffer from it in their lifetime. It’s usually caused
by a fungus present in soil. There are four different fungal dermatophytes that can cause the infection but the most common is trychophyton rubrum.
Anyone can get athlete’s foot but it’s more common in people who are under a lot of stress, wear shoes that don’t fit well, have pedicures at nail salons or go barefoot in warm, wet
areas, such as public showers, swimming pools and locker rooms.
The fungus can also spread through direct contact with infected individuals or with objects containing
fungal spores such as socks, shoes, etc.
If left untreated, the fungus can spread to other parts of the body, including nails, hands, and legs. If there is an excessive skin breakdown, a secondary bacterial infection can occur. This is potentially dangerous in individuals diagnosed with diabetes and those with a suppressed immune system.
What are the signs and symptoms?
• Infection can occur on any part of the foot but is most commonly found between toes and on the bottom of the foot
• Some people have no symptoms and are not aware they have a fungal infection
• The infection might appear wet or dry with redness, scaling, itching and burning
First, visit a chiropodist/podiatrist or your family physician to decide
if you have athlete’s foot. They
will recommend appropriate treatments. In some cases, athlete’s foot looks like other conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema. Once diagnosed,
it can be effectively treated with certain medications and creams.
To prevent fungal infections, wash and dry your feet every day, wear shoes and socks made of natural fibres and materials, don’t share clothing or walk barefoot in public
(e.g. swimming pools, gyms). Also, avoid nail salons that do not steam sterilize their tools.
People with diabetes and other circulatory problems should always consult a health care professional before beginning any treatments.