What is Athlete's Foot?
Also known as tenia pedis, athlete's foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin on your feet. Caused by fungi known as dermatophytes, they thrive in moist environments such as recreational pools, showers, locker rooms, and communal sports facilities. Wearing socks or having sweaty feet further compounds the problem and provides the fungi with the ideal growth conditions.
While athlete's foot can affect any part of the foot, it most commonly occurs between the toes. Patients with athlete's foot experience cracked and scaly skin, which is red and extremely itchy.
What Are the Causes of Athlete's Foot?
Walking barefoot in places that are damp—such as sports locker rooms, showers, and communal facilities—can make you more predisposed to tenia pedis. The name athlete's foot refers to how common the infection is among sports athletes. Wearing damp socks or shoes that make your feet sweat a lot also increases your risk of getting tenia pedis.
For some patients, athlete's foot can be a chronic condition. Regular checkups with your podiatrist can help not only manage your current infection but prevent further occurrences by teaching you proper foot hygiene, as well as administration of topical or oral antifungal medicines.
What Are the Symptoms of Athlete's Foot?
(3) Common symptoms of athlete's foot include:
- cracked, scaly skin, especially between the toes
- thick and cloudy yellow toenails
- bad odor
What to Expect During Treatment for Athlete's Foot at the Podiatrist
Make an appointment with your podiatrist if the infection takes longer than three weeks to clear up. Your podiatric physician will conduct a foot exam to determine whether or not a fungal infection is the cause of your symptoms. If severe, prescription medication will be prescribed to manage the infection. Keeping your feet dry and clean is key to managing and preventing the spread of athlete's foot.
Proper foot hygiene is key to preventing athlete's foot. If you find yourself in public locker rooms, pools, and shower facilities, always make sure not to walk barefoot. You can also prevent athlete's foot by:
- wear slippers or sandals when walking around in communal facilities
- keeping your feet dry and clean at all times
- wearing moisture-wicking socks and shoes that don't make your feet sweat easily
- keep toenails clipped short and neat
- using over-the-counter antifungal medicines
- always wash your hands after applying medicine as the infection can spread to other parts of your foot