Do I Have Athlete’s Foot?
If you notice a red itchy patch crawling out from between your toes and beginning to cover other parts of your foot, chances are you have contracted the common infection known as athlete’s foot. If it’s any comfort you’re not alone—20 percent of people polled in a recent medical study reported that they had had athlete’s foot at least once. And don’t be fooled by the name: athlete’s foot can happen to anyone.
The three most common types of infections are viral, bacterial, and fungal. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection, caused by a version of the same fungus that grows on tree trunks—and causes ringworm, yeast infections, and jock itch. Fungus loves damp, dark environments—like your shoes—and is highly contagious, which means that locker rooms and showers are prime spots for picking up an unwanted fungal hitchhiker.
How do you know it’s athlete’s foot? For one thing, it looks different from other rashes. Where an allergic rash such as poison ivy will be marked with clusters of tiny blisters, athlete’s foot is most often flat, scaly and red. If you have been wearing damp socks or shoes, sharing a towel or sheets with someone who has an infection or walk barefoot in a communal locker room or public shower that’s another tip-off that your itchy spot might be athlete’s foot.
Prevention is, of course, always the best medicine. Keep your feet clean and dry (to step it up a notch sprinkle your feet with talcum powder after bathing and use a hair dryer, paying special attention to the spaces between your toes). Change your socks often and let damp shoes dry out thoroughly before you put them back on. Wear flip-flops or pool shoes in public locker rooms and avoid skin-to-skin contact with infected people.
If you do suspect you have athlete’s foot you can give an anti-fungal cream from the drug store a try, but if you don’t see an improvement pretty quickly—or if you are experiencing pain, fever, swelling or open sores—get an expert diagnosis from your podiatrist (and always, if you have diabetes, skip the drugstore treatment and go straight to your podiatrist). It’s not uncommon for something that starts out as athlete’s foot to be accompanied by bacterial infections, especially if there are sores or cracks in the skin. Let your podiatrist take a look so you can start on the right treatment right away. The medical staff at the Triad Foot & Ankle Center’s three locations are knowledgeable in treating the full range of foot and ankle issues. Call 336-375-6990 to schedule your appointment or visit our website www.triadfoot.com to request an appointment.
Disclaimer: The information and other content provided in our blogs, videos, or in any other content or linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For a full disclaimer, please click here.