If you’ve even found yourself with itching, scaly feet, you know that what seems like a minor problem can make it hard to think about much else. Here’s some info about a common scourge that hits both athletes and more sedentary folks.
What is athlete’s foot?
It’s an infection leading to uncomfortable itching, scaling, and sometimes peeling on the feet, which often starts in the spaces between the toes. It is caused by a few different types of fungus and is fairly contagious.
How does athlete’s foot spread?
Fungi love wet surfaces, so the floors of locker rooms and nearby communal showers are perhaps the most frequent source of contagion. Shoes worn by others (such as bowling shoes) or pretty much any surface where people walk barefoot can be a cause. Since athlete’s foot is caused by the same fungi behind ringworm in cats and dogs, the fungus can be spread to you by Whiskers or Fido. Also, as with any other illness, contact with our fellow human beings can be a factor.
Is athlete’s foot ever spread to other parts of the body?
Yes. Toes can often be infected by fungus, but it can spread to areas far from the feet. The most frequent spot where the same fungi may appear is in the genital area and is referred to as jock itch.
What are risk factors for athlete’s foot?
The disease seems to hit men more frequently than women, though it’s possible cultural and other factors that make women somewhat less likely to become athletes compared to men may play a part in that distinction. Obviously, anyone who spends time in gyms is more at risk, as is anyone who frequently shares shoes.
How is athlete’s foot treated?
A combination of hygiene to prevent the further reinfection or spread of the fungus and an over-the-counter medicate ointment to sooth the feet and kill the fungus are the first line of defense. Avoid scratching as that will likely worsen the problem or cause spreading to the hand and toenails. In persistent cases, a doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication.
What are the most commonly used ointments for athlete’s food treatments?
They include Lotrimin (clotrimazole) Micatin (miconazole), Lamisil (terbinafine), and Tinactin (tolnaftate).
What should I do to prevent and limit the spread of athlete’s foot?
- Avoid walking barefoot in communal and/or wet areas, such as locker room floors, showers, and bathrooms. Shower shoes or flip-flops/sandals are often used to limit contact with floors.
- Avoid footwear that has been worn by others.
- Wear a different pair of clean socks every day. Natural or synthetic fabrics that “breathe” and help to keep feet dryer are preferable.
- Consider alternating between pairs of shoes to give them more time to dry between wearings.
- Wash your feet every day and make sure they stay as dry as possible throughout the day.
- Keep bedding and other materials that contact your body clean.
- If someone who lives with you has a fungal condition, do not share towels or linens with them.
- If you think your cat or dog might have ringworm, be extra sure to wash your hands after touching them (always a good idea in any case!).
- Keep feet dry as much of the day as possible.
- Keep toenails short.
- If you’ve already been infected, consider washing shoes and socks with bleach to avoid reinfection. If you want to be completely safe, consider discarding them.
Can athlete’s foot become more serious?
While, as far as we know, no one has died from athlete’s foot, if you scratch too much, other types of infections which be more serious can definitely result. Do like your mom told you and don’t scratch!
When should I see a doctor for athlete’s foot?
As with most health conditions, see a physician if the condition doesn’t respond to treatment or worsens.
Urgent care for athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot may not be life-threatening, but persistent itching and scaling can definitely eat into your quality of life. If you’re a busy person who can’t seem to find the time to fit in a doctor’s appointment or standard urgent care visit, consider contacting Dr. Michael Farzam and House Call Doctor Los Angeles. Whether you’re at home, a hotel, at the office, on a film set or a work site, Dr. Farzam can visit you and help you get rid of your persistent or worsening athlete’s foot as quickly as possible.
To get started, contact us now at the phone number above, or reach out to us through our contact page.