Are athletes the only people who can get athlete’sfoot?
Anyone can develop athlete’s foot, which is themost common type of fungal infection. It’s called athlete’s footbecause the fungus that causes it is often found where athletes arelikely to be, such as damp areas near pools and in public showersand locker rooms.
When people walk barefoot on damp surfaces or use items such asdamp towels that have been used by someone else with the fungus,the fungus gets on their feet and, in the right conditions,develops into athlete’s foot — also known as tinea pedis. Athlete’sfoot is contagious and can be spread by contact with an infectedperson or with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, floors andshoes.
What causes athlete’s foot?
A group of mold-likefungi called dermatophytes causes athlete’s foot and other fungalinfections, such as ringworm and jock’s itch. Microscopic organismsnormally are present on your skin; dermatophytes begin to multiplyin damp, close environments.
Can I avoid getting athlete’s foot?
Wash your feetdaily and dry feet thoroughly, especially between the toes. Keepyour feet dry. go barefoot to let your feet air out as much aspossible when you’re at home.
Use footwear made of natural materials, such as cotton or woolsocks. Change socks regularly, more often if your feet sweat a lot.choose shoes that are light and ventilated and avoid shoes made ofplastic, vinyl or rubber. Alternate shoes so they have time to dryout and don’t share shoes. Wear waterproof sandals or shower shoesin public places such as locker rooms, saunas, pool decks andpublic facilities. Daily use of an over the counter antifungalpowder can also be helpful.
How will I know I have athlete’s foot?
You’llfeel itching, stinging and burning between your toes and/or thesoles of your feet and you may notice an unpleasant odor. Itchyblisters may develop and skin is likely to crack and peel betweentoes and on the foot soles. A rash may spread to the inside part ofyour foot. Athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of your foot,such as the toenails. If so, they become thick, ragged, discoloredand separate from the nail bed. You won’t necessarily have allthese symptoms and there are other fungal infections, such asringworm, that produce similar symptoms.
Do I need to see a doctor?
your primary caredoctor can determine if you do have athlete’s foot or if you have adifferent fungal infection and your doctor can prescribe theappropriate medication to heal the condition.
If you notice swelling, drainage or the affected skin becomes hotto the touch or if you have a weakened immune system such as beingdiabetic, call your primary care doctor right away. in some cases,athlete’s foot can cause secondary infections, tissue breakdown andan allergic response.
So it’s important to examine your skin regularly and make anappointment with your doctor if symptoms continue to worsen. Yourdoctor can prescribe medication to cure the athlete’s foot.
(Dr. Thomas Thorson is a board certified family medicinephysician at Medcenter One Mandan Family Clinic East. A graduate ofthe University of North Dakota School of Medicine at Grand Forks,Thorson completed his residency at the University of North DakotaCenter for Family Medicine in Bismarck. he has special medicalinterests in occupational medicine, mental health, chronic diseasemanagement and preventative care.)
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