Do only athlete’s get Athlete’s Foot?
Do only athletes get Athletes Foot
Athletes foot is more common than people realise, most have suffered without actually knowing about it, however some cases will not go away and require treatment.
Do I have Athletes Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a skin fungal infection. Commonly, it can be itchy, cracked, blistered and peeling skin that has a redness or scaly appearance. It is most common on moist, damp feet between the toes. If left untreated, it can spread between the toes and onto the soles of your feet as well.
But in a large majority of cases that I’ve seen, it can just simply appear as dry skin that just won’t improve despite regular use of moisturisers and foot files.
What causes it?
It’s can be caused by fungal species which you pick up from other infected feet, such as swimming pools, showers and changing rooms or anywhere you walk barefoot. Athlete’s foot can also be passed on directly from person to person contact, although people who sweat more are much more prone to infection.
Once your feet have been infected the warm, dark and sweaty environment of feet cramped in shoes or trainers provide the ideal breeding ground for the fungus to grow. However, athlete’s foot also occurs in dry, flaky areas. It’s quite common in summer with sandal and flip flop wearers even with barely visible cracked heels. The sun makes your skin dry out so it loses its natural oils. This combined with the constant trauma from unsupportive sandals makes them more prone to infection.
How serious is it?
If left untreated, the fungus can spread to the toe nails causing thickening and yellowing of the nail which is much harder to treat. Fungal infections are highly contagious and can spread to anywhere on your skin – including your scalp, hands and even your groin. This is especially likely if you use the same towel for your feet as for the rest of your body. It is always best to treat this condition as soon as symptoms are first noticed and avoid cross contamination by keep your foot towel separate.
I’m not an athlete, so will I get it?
It’s not called athlete’s foot for nothing! It’s a fairly common condition and walking barefoot around swimming pools and spending your life in trainers may make you more likely to suffer, but obviously you do not need to be an athlete to suffer from this condition.
How can I prevent it?
The most important thing to prevent infection is to dry your feet completely, taking special care between the toes! Other good practices for avoiding fungal infections on your feet are:
- Change footwear regularly, alternation your shoes daily or every two days to give the shoes a chance to air, at least 1-2 days between the next wear is recommended.
- If this is not possible due to them being school schools or work shoes, makes sure you dry them out each evening, put them in a warm dry part of the house, perhaps by the radiator. If it’s a chronic problem for you then a hairdryer on a cold setting is ideal for this! Avoid the heat setting as this makes the fungus grow more! Try and choose shoes will good ventilation.
- Make sure you can wiggle your toes in your shoes….this isn’t just advice for growing feet, it applies to adults as well! If your toes are pushed together , this will create moisture as the lack of air flow, which will then encourage fungus growth. Natural materials, such as leather are best and always remember to change your socks daily!
- If you do visit public pools and changing areas, always wear flip flops to prevent any contact with other people’s dead skin…and prevent you from leaving yours for them!
- NEVER wear other peoples shoes…Need I say more!
Treatments for Athlete’s foot.
Dry Skin Athletes Foot conditions require the moisture to be replaced, an anti fungal cream or spray can help. A steroid cream can also help but always seek advice from your Podiatrist or pharmacist. Quite often the treatment can take a few weeks to show an improvement. You’ll be given advise on daily use of a urea based emollient (the strength of which can be ascertained at your appointment) and the use of an antifungal product, along with some attention to your footwear.
Always wash hands or wear disposable gloves to avoid cross contamination onto your finger nails.
Moist Athletes Foot conditions requires an completey different type of treatment to the dry condition. Wash your feet in as cold water as you can bear (as hot makes your feet fungus-friendly). Dry them thoroughly after washing with a separate towel or kitchen roll. It is important to dab your feet dry rather than rub them, as rubbing tends to take away any healing skin. Although the skin may appear flaky and dry, never use moisturiser between your toes, also avoid powders as they can clog up and irritate the skin. A spirit-based preparation can help such as surgical spirit (it’s cooling, soothing and antiseptic) or witch hazel/ hamamelis water can be used. This may sting a little but will evaporate the moisture and allow the skin to heal.
In severe cases, sometimes an anti-fungal tablet is prescribed. However, tablets are not suitable for everyone eg. pregnant women so always check with your pharmacist and follow the instructions carefully.
REMEMBER! avoid using anti-fungal powders between the toes, they’re only good for dusting inside shoes and trainers.
The worst mistake to make once the appearance of the condition has gone, is to return to old bad habits of not rotating shoes, drying feet properly and not using the medication to prevent it returning. Infections such as Athletes Foot can sit dormant for months until the environment is right again for fungus to grow. If you see any slight symptoms that it is returning, get on it straight away before it takes hold again.
Should I see a podiatrist about it?
You should be able to get rid of Athlete’s foot on your own but a podiatrist may help you pinpoint the best treatment for your particular type of Athlete’s foot. As explained above, both require very different treatment, so you could make it worse. Your Podiatrist can also help if the fungal infection has spread to your nails by reducing the thickness and cutting back the nails thereby exposing the infected nail bed to a lighter, cooler environment.
Fungal Nail Infections
Fungal Nail infections can be uncomfortable as well as unsightly, the effect it can have on a persons confidence and persona are remarkable. Before treatment commences, we can discuss the various approaches available. There is anecdotal evidence that pure essential Tea Tree Oil has been used to improve this condition but not enough evidence based medincine has been produced to make it conclusive.
There are topical lacquer based treatments available over the counter and by prescription as well as oral medication.
as often do not respond to topical treatments. You sometimes need oral medication (tablets) to kill the fungus in nails. If the fungus is only in the nail and not elsewhere, it is probably caused by an injury. Injuries allow the fungus to creep in and multiply under the nail. This can affect the substance of the nail which may become crusty, discoloured and deformed. This oral medication can have side effects so if you have other medical conditions or are on other medication, your GP or Podiatrist may recommend that you don’t take it.
Lacuna, A method of perforating the nail to allow a topical treatment to reach the nail bed can be performed and is quite a cost effective way to treat the fungus.
Laser nail therapy is not available at this clinic but we can discuss the pros and cons and cost implications of this treatment, as well as advise you on our preferred recommended partners who can offer it.
If you experience any foot care issues which do not resolve themselves naturally or through routine foot care within a few weeks, it is recommended to seek the help of a healthcare professional such as your Podiatrist. Visit our website for further information or call the clinic on 01628 603 977.
For more information on fungal nail infections click here.
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