Athlete's Foot: A Fungal Skin Disease
Athlete's Foot, also known as Tinea Pedis, is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It is a common disorder characterized by cracked heels, skin blisters, scaling of soles and itching.
The fungus that causes Athlete’s foot is called Trichophyton which belongs to a fungi classification called dermatophytes, which also cause Jock Itch and Ringworm. This fungus thrives in warm, moist environments.
Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot:
- Itching or burning sensation in between your toes or on the soles of your feet.
- Blisters on your feet.
- Cracking or peeling of your skin in between the toes or on the soles.
- Discolored, thick and crumbly toenails.
- Severe dry skin of your feet.
Causes of Athlete's Foot:
Athlete’s Foot is caused by the same type of fungus which causes ringworm or jock itch. Humid conditions favor this organism's growth.
Athlete’s Foot is contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected person or through contact with contaminated objects such as towels, floors and shoes.
Diagnosis Of Athlete’s Foot:
Skin Lesion Potassium Hydroxide Exam is the most common test to diagnose athlete's feet. The doctor takes a sample of the infected skin and places it in potassium hydroxide. The KOH destroys human cells and the remaining fungal cells can be examined under a microscope.
Risk Factors Of Athlete’s Foot:
People with the following instances are at higher risk of getting Athlete’s Foot:
- Wear damp socks or tightfitting shoes.
- Keep the feet wet or moist for very long.
- Have sweaty feet.
- Share socks, shoes or towels with someone infected.
- Walk barefoot somewhere where the infection is prone to spread such as locker rooms, swimming pools, saunas or showers.
Treatments of Athlete’s Foot:
In most cases, the Athlete’s Foot is treated by over-the-counter topical antifungal medications. These antifungal ointments include:
- Miconazole (Desenex)
- Terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
- Butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
- Tolnaftate (Tinactin)
Doctors also recommend soaking your feet in saltwater and diluted vinegar to help dry up blisters.
Complications of Athlete’s Foot:
The complication of this fungal infection can lead to bacterial infection and make your feet swollen, painful and hot. Pus from the blisters and fever are further signs of a bacterial infection.
Prevention of Athlete’s Foot:
- Wash your feet with water and soap every day.
- Use antifungal powder on your feet regularly.
- Wear clean socks and shoes.
- Avoid wearing sweaty or wet socks for long.
- Air out your feet by being barefoot for a while.
- Do not share socks, shoes, and towels with others.
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