The Athlete’s Foot: Causes, Symptoms…

Ever heard of an athlete’s foot? I’m pretty sure you know what it is just the name that is unfamiliar to you. So first of all, it is not suffered by athletes. Athlete’s foot is no stranger to us at all as we either have had it before or know someone that has. I used to have a friend that suffered from athlete’s foot for years back in secondary school. It was so persistent that some people began to think to she was exaggerating the whole issue. I’ve always been curious as to what it actually is. I went digging and found answers. Luckily, I know you’re also interested. Enjoy it. 

The feet are one of the most neglected parts of the body except if you get a pedicure every now and then. It’s not a body part that a lot of attention is given to like the face. As a result, we don’t think of the repercussions of things we do and places we go to.

This infection is particularly common among secondary school children. Because they’re more prone to shred items within each other. And they have more tendency to wear wet or damp soaks. If you went to a Nigerian Secondary school, you’ll relate to this. This information is really helpful to enable us to teach the children and even make adjustments ourselves to prevent such issues.  

OVERVIEW

Athlete’s foot is a skin infection caused by fungus. A fungal infection may occur on any part of the body; on the foot, it is called athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis. Fungus commonly attacks the feet because it thrives in a dark, moist and warm environment, such as a shoe. It is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tightfitting shoes. 

Athlete’s foot is closely related to other fungal infections such as ringworm and jock itch. It is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tightfitting shoes. 

Signs and symptoms include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing. 

Athlete’s foot is closely related to other fungal infections such as ringworm and jock itch 

SYMPTOMS 

Athlete’s foot usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin. It is commonly seen on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. In advanced cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form; an infection caused by bacteria can also result. The fungus can spread to other areas of the body, including toenails. Some types of athlete’s foot feature blisters or ulcers. The moccasin variety of athlete’s foot causes chronic dryness and scaling on the soles that extends up to the side of the foot. It can be mistaken for eczema or even as dry skin. 

Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. It is contagious and can be spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing. 

The infection can affect one or both feet and can spread to your hand — especially if you scratch or pick at the infected parts of your feet. 

CAUSES 

Fungal infections are more common in warm weather when feet tend to sweat more.  Fungus thrives in damp areas, such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms.  Athletes often have sweaty feet and use the facilities where the fungus is commonly found, thus the term “athlete’s foot.” 

It occurs when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. You can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person, or by touching surfaces contaminated with the fungus. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments. 

If you have diabetes, see your doctor if you suspect you have athlete’s foot, especially if you notice any signs of a possible secondary bacterial infection such as excessive redness, swelling, drainage or fever 

RISK FACTORS 

Anyone can get athlete’s foot, but certain behaviors increase your risk. Factors that increase your risk of getting athlete’s foot include: 

  • visiting public places barefoot, especially locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools 
  • sharing socks, shoes, or towels with an infected person 
  • wearing tight, closed-toe shoes 
  • keeping your feet wet for long periods of time 
  • Having sweaty feet 
  • having a minor skin or nail injury on your foot 

TREATMENT 

Athlete’s foot can often be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal medications. If OTC medications don’t treat your infection, your doctor may prescribe topical or oral prescription-strength antifungal medications. Your doctor may also recommend home treatments to help clear up the infection. 

There are a series of natural remedies for athlete’s foot. Some of them include: 

  1. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) Studies suggest that tea tree oil may help to kill fungi 
  1. Garlic 
  1. Hydrogen peroxide with iodine 
  1. Hairdryer and talcum powder 
  1. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) 
  1. Soaking the leg in warm water with some salt or diluted vinegar to dry up the blisters  

PREVENTION 

Avoiding walking barefoot combined with good foot hygiene can help reduce the spread of the fungus. Feet should be washed every day with soap and water and thoroughly dried, including between the toes. Feet should be kept as dry as possible. If your feet sweat a lot you may need to change your socks during the day. Antifungal powders, sprays and/or creams are often used to treat athlete’s foot. Your foot and ankle surgeon will recommend the best treatment for you. 

These tips can help you avoid athlete’s foot or ease the symptoms if infection occurs: 

  • Keep your feet dry, especially between your toes. Go barefoot to let your feet air out as much as possible when you’re home. Dry between your toes after a bath or shower. 
  • Change socks regularly. If your feet get very sweaty, change your socks twice a day. 
  • Wear light, well-ventilated shoes. Avoid shoes made of synthetic material, such as vinyl or rubber. 
  • Alternate pairs of shoes. Don’t wear the same pair every day so that you give your shoe time to dry after each use. 
  • Protect your feet in public places. Wear waterproof sandals or shoes around public pools, showers, and locker rooms. 
  • Treat your feet. Use powder, preferably antifungal, on your feet daily. 
  • Don’t share shoes. Sharing risks spreading a fungal infection. 

What If an Athlete’s foot is left untreated? 

If left untreated, there is a risk that the infection will spread from toe to toe. A rash may develop on the sides and the bottom of the feet. In rare cases, an athlete’s foot can spread to the hands, this is known as tinea manuum. It is important to treat athlete’s foot as soon as symptoms appear. 

After all, has been said and done, we can see that an athlete’s foot can happen to literally anyone and as such, we should be more mindful about things we do and how we take care of every part of the body