Athlete’s foot – Doesn’t just affect athletes

With the thermostat creeping ever higher this time of year, we wanted to talk a little bit about something everyone has heard before: Athlete’s feet. Maybe you recall battling this in high school or you may still avoid gym showers because of it. It is true that you can pick it up from pools, gyms, or by sharing footwear with someone who has fungal nails or athlete’s foot. Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone. This time of the year it especially affects anyone sweating into enclosed shoes all day long.

One of the main culprits in athlete’s foot is often T. rubrum or T. mentagrophytes. These types of fungus are common causes of the itching and burning that accompanies athletes’ foot. Sometimes yeast, such as C. albicans, can also be at the source of the problem. The red, itchy, flaky, peeling skin is a result of an infection at the outermost layer of skin. Many of these fungi are ubiquitous, or found everywhere, and they look for opportune places to flourish. These organisms love warm, dark, moist areas; areas similar to those found in soccer shoes, construction boots, or any type of footwear without proper ventilation. Often a small ‘dry’ patch or discolored toenail can lead to an extensive athlete’s foot under confined, sweaty conditions.

Make sure you seek medical treatment if there are breaks in the skin. If your skin is not broken, you can apply over the counter medications that contain terbinafine or clotrimazole twice a day. Be sure to continue therapy for a week beyond when it looks better as fungus can still be present after it appears gone. Hygiene is important to prevent reoccurrence so be sure to dust your shoes with antifungal drying powders. Wash and dry your feet every day, paying special attention between your toes. Additionally, make sure to keep you feet dry by changing socks throughout the day and using antiperspirant powders.

If your condition persists for several weeks after doing all of this home care, you should make an appointment to see Dr. Thomajan. Diabetes can further complicate athlete’s foot and should not be treated at home. Everyone should remember to call Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists immediately if your foot becomes red, warm, swollen, or has red streaks as this indicates an infection has broken through the skin and requires immediate care.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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