Have you ever wondered what you would do if you never had your feet? Life would be really tough. Right? But did you know those feet are the most neglected part of our body and the most vulnerable too? We often forget that along with your body and face, feet can also get infected. In fact, our feet are exposed to the most number of pathogens daily.
So next time when you see even a small change or blister or crack in your feet, please have a look at it, because there is ample chance that it is Athlete’s Foot, one of the most common infections of the feet.
You might wonder what this strange sounding issue is? Fact is many of you have seen it but never knew it’s medical name. The itchy or bleeding sore between your toe gaps that often stings when you try to part your toes is what it is.
Table of Contents
- Defining an athlete’s foot
- What are the treatment options available for athlete’s foot?
Defining an athlete’s foot
In simple layman’s term Athlete’s Foot is a skin disease of the feet that occurs due to Fungal Infection. It is extremely contagious in nature and tends to spread quickly from one to another if not taken care of. Scientifically it is also known as Tinea Pedis.
You might now wonder why it has such a strange name. Since this disease is more common in Athletes, especially who are more prone to have sweaty or wet feet at all time, thus the name. In many cases, if neglected the pathogen can spread to other areas of the body like the toenail bed and the hands as well.
In careful research, it has also been noted that people with very weak immunity and suffering from conditions like Diabetes tends to fall victim to this disease somewhat faster than any normal healthy individuals. Fungal infections, in general, should not be left alone for long, they are very easy to spread because of being extremely contagious in nature and often results in a deteriorating skin condition that might take a very long time to heal.
How does athletes foot occur?
As mentioned above AF is a fungal infection that is communicable. This infection occurs as a result of a specific species of Fungus that are very active in moist and warm places. These species of fungus includes Trichophytons, Epidermophytons, Microsporum, etc. In warm and humid surrounding fungus tends to reproduce at a breakneck pace. That is why, common shower rooms, locker rooms, and swimming adjacent pool areas are great places to get infected.
Since it is common for people to walk bare feet around this areas, the fungus can easily get attached to the cronies and crevices of the legs and naturally grow further. Problem is, most often than not we do not realize that we have been infected and go around sharing our sandals, shoes, towels, etc. with other and that results in spreading the fungus further to another individual.
Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot shows numerous signs and symptoms, but unfortunately, we tend to merely neglect them thinking that they are not much worth noticing. Some of these common signs and symptoms are –
- Open cut like wound between the toe gaps or toe joints that we have no idea about how it happened.Open cut like wound between the toe gaps or toe joints that we have no idea about how it happened.
- Stinging sensation in and around the cut with inflamed and red borders
- Itching sensation within the toe gaps with the formation of blisters in many cases
- Cracked soles and peeling skin of the feet which stings unlike usual cracked or chapped feet that occurs during the dry season.
- In rare and extreme cases one can also see the infection spread into the nail bed. This result in discolored and unevenly shaped and form toenails. In some cases, you can also look at the toenails even coming off the nail bed entirely.
- The flaky skin around the infection is also quite common due to constant itch.
- Pus can also form in these wounds if immediate care is not taken and the injury is allowed to remain in the same state for an extended period.
What should one never do when infected with athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot being communicable in nature cannot be entirely stopped from spreading. However, taking a few measures can help you in preventing it from spreading to another individual. These simple steps include –
- Always wearing open aerated sandals and flip flops
- Strict prohibition from sharing your belongings with any other person. Towels, etc. are the most commonly shared belongings which should be kept away from anyone else’s touch.
- Changing of socks at regular interval and never repeating the same sock two days in a row.
- Always washing your clothing’s, towels and socks with a strong disinfectant to kill the fungus attached to your daily wear without allowing it to generate further.
- Polyester and nylons should always be avoided and instead of cotton or other material that allows maximum aeration, should be opted. It will help in naturally air drying your feet on the go and prevent moisture remnants from forming within the gaps and crevices.
How bad can athlete’s foot get if left untreated?
The biggest issue with this form of Fungal Infection is that they tend to reoccur, so there is no permanent fixture for it except regular temporary management. In extreme cases, secondary complications can easily develop resulting in various serious ramifications.
- Pus formation is a scenario that occurs if the blister or wound of fungal infection is left untreated for long.
- Swelling of feet due to an increased pathogen can also be seen in extreme cases.
- In some cases, the infection can spread into the lymphatic system resulting in Lymphangitis or Lymphadenitis.
- Fever is also seen in sever infected cases.
What are the treatment options available for athlete’s foot?
One of the most common treatments for Athlete’s foot is Topical Fungal Application Cream that can be easily bought from any over the counter store or pharmacy. That does not need any prescription from a Physician. A wide range of generic OTC Antifungal ointments available includes
- Miconazole (Desenex)
- Terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
- Butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
- Tolnaftate (Tinactin)
However in severe cases, OTC cannot be a practical choice of treatment, so a prescription drug is required. Some of the most common topical Applicator Creams prescribed by
- Physicians includes
- Itraconazole (Sporanox),
- Fluconazole (Diflucan), or
- Prescription-strength Terbinafine (Lamisil)
- Prescription-strength Clotrimazole or Miconazole
The blisters and pus infections are treated with simultaneous prescription application of Anti-biotic cream or Steroidal Ointments.
For regaining the natural texture of the feet skin which becomes flaky and patchy in many cases, special ointments with moisturizing agents are also prescribed that enhances the inherent moisturizing property of the feet while providing a water repellent coating all over the feet to avoid external moisture and dirt from entering the cracks.
It results in rapid closure and healing of the cracks and chapped areas of the feet.
Potassium Hydroxide is also one of the best methods of treating Athlete’s Foot related fungal infections which can be easily procured and is self-applicable.
Tee tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) has been one of the oldest agents used to treat this infection. They have been proven to be an adequate remedy scientifically. However, the usage is still a matter of controversy because in many cases patients were seen developing secondary symptoms like Dermatitis.
This infection though recurring in nature can be easily treated if noticed soon.
Home treatment or herbal remedies for treating athlete’s foot
A fungus is something that has been here for as long as the Dinosaurs. SO it is quite a known fact that over the period many would have tried and tested numerous methods to get rid of it. Some of the most natural and most common ways of getting rid of this Fungal Infections include-
- Apple cider Vinegar Application due to its strong Fungicidal property.
- Soaking the feet for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day in Salt and turmeric infused warm water for the same reason as above.
- Repeated application of Hydrogen peroxide mixed with Iodine solution
- Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) paste application
- Garlic paste application for its strong Antibacterial and Antifungal properties.
How can you prevent hthlete’s foot from infecting you?
Simple daily precautions can help a great deal in preventing the infection from occurring. These precautions include
- Proper and methodical drying of the feet inclusive of all the nooks and crannies.
- Always keeping the feet clean and aerated.
- Avoiding socks made of materials that prevent aeration and results in moisture formation on the feet
- Regular change of the socks.
- Avoiding walking through any common shower space or locker rooms without sandals
- Never wearing or using wearable of any other individuals
Feet are the only part of our body that remains exposed for the longest of time every day. It is essential to look for even smallest of cracks and blisters correctly if one wants to avoid complications at later timers.
Athlete’s Foot may not be something very noteworthy, and we often neglect it, thinking it will go away by itself. Here lies our biggest mistake. So, be aware of this disease and get treated immediately.