Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection of the skin on the feet. It usually affects areas between the toes and can spread to other parts of the body, such as your hands and groin area. Athlete’s foot causes an itchy rash that may also be red, scaly, and cracked.
Symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on how long you have had it. Pain can flare up while you try to be active, and the itchiness can drive you bonkers – especially once you take your socks off and expose your toes to the open air!
The good news is that athlete’s foot can be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter medications. This article will provide information about getting rid of the athlete’s foot, including treatment options and prevention tips, so you don’t have to deal with this painful condition again!
If you have a case of athlete’s foot that is extremely painful, has lasted more than a few days without improvement, or is just something you don’t want to mess with, we are more than happy to help you. Contact us and take the first step toward professional treatment.
How Did I Get Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that thrives in warm and moist conditions. This means it can spread from person to person through direct contact or from damp surfaces, such as locker rooms, showers, or around public pools. These environments also pose a higher risk of picking up an infection, largely thanks to all the barefoot traffic they tend to receive.
Fungal spores can also be spread through contaminated towels and clothing. However, something much closer to home can harbor athlete’s foot fungus as well: your shoes.
Closed-toed shoes that are stuffy and that your feet sweat in a lot can be prime real estate for tinea pedis fungus. The longer your shoes stay damp, the more they love it. Choosing to wear shoes without socks can also increase the chance of developing athlete’s foot. It is also worth keeping in mind that the same type of fungus that causes athlete’s foot can also cause fungal toenail infections. It is not uncommon for the fungus to start in the skin and spread to the nails, or vice versa.
How Do I Treat Athlete’s Foot?
The first line of treatment for athlete’s foot is to keep your feet clean and dry and wear loose-fitting shoes that let air circulate around your feet. You can also use an antifungal powder or spray on the affected area several times daily. Over-the-counter antifungal creams and ointments are available for more severe cases of athlete’s foot, but you should always speak to our doctor before using them.
However, some cases of athlete’s foot are more severe. While you can call us for any case of athlete’s foot, we highly recommend reaching out to our office if:
- Your case does not respond to a couple of days of over-the-counter treatment.
- Pain and symptoms are significantly impacting your daily life.
- You have excessive blisters and rawness, increasing your risk of bacterial infection.
- It appears you might already have a bacterial infection (your foot might be swollen, hot to the touch, severely painful, and/or discharging pus).
- You have diabetes, poor circulation, or a related condition that leaves your feet more vulnerable to complications.
We have access to more advanced prescription medications that may better suit your needs. This includes both topical medications to attack the fungus from the outside and oral antifungals to attack from the inside. We might also prescribe antibiotics if the risk of bacterial infection through open skin is a concern.
Try to avoid touching your feet as much as possible while you have athlete’s foot, as the disease can spread to the hands. If you do have to touch it (and let’s admit, it’s very hard not to), make sure to wash your hands thoroughly as soon as possible afterward.
If the fungal infection has spread to your toenails, it can be much more challenging to eliminate the fungus there than it is on your skin, largely due to how the fungus can set up defensively beneath the surface of the nail.
How Do I Prevent Athlete’s Foot (or Keep it From Coming Back)?
Some simple steps can help safeguard your feet against athlete’s foot. Primarily, you should focus on reducing exposure and creating less appealing environments for the fungus to thrive in.
Tips to prevent athlete’s foot:
- To ensure that your feet stay dry and ventilated, opting for socks created from breathable fibers such as wool or synthetic is crucial. Additionally, make sure to choose shoes with adequate open circulation – although this may not be doable in specific work environments.
- To avoid clamminess, switch up your socks midway through the day. If you experience an unusually high amount of perspiration though, please come see us for some much-needed assistance – we’d be delighted to help!
- To keep your shoes odor-free and dry, switch between pairs every 24 hours. Boot dryers are a great way to accelerate the drying process, while a sprinkle of antifungal powder can help too! Refrain from overloading on powder, though, as it may cause foot instability within the shoe and lead to other issues.
- Protect yourself from athlete’s foot by wearing shower shoes in locker rooms, public showers, around pools, and any other area where you may be exposed to the fungus. Sandals are better than going barefoot but not as effective as closed-toe footwear, such as shower shoes.
- To protect yourself and others, it is recommended to never share socks, shoes, towels, or nail clippers with anyone. Even when washing items that frequently come into contact with your feet, such as bedding and towels, ensure you are using hot water!
- Make sure to give your feet some much-needed TLC by cleaning them carefully with soap and water daily. Give extra attention to the area between the toes, then dry thoroughly when you’re done!
If you have recently recovered from athlete’s foot, your risk of contracting it again can be higher. We can discuss further tips with you on how to protect yourself, if necessary.
Let Us Help Put Out the Fire in Your Feet!
Let us help put out the fire in your feet! If you are tired of dealing with the pain and discomfort of athlete’s foot, we can help. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing quality care and treatment options for athlete’s foot tailored to your needs. We understand how uncomfortable and embarrassing this infection can be, so we want to ensure you get the best possible care.
Contact Us for Treatment
If athlete’s foot – or any other foot or ankle condition – is making it miserable to do the things you love, we are here to help with swift, professional treatment.
Call our Berkley office at (510) 647-3744 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to hear from you!