Athlete’s foot is a common contagious infection caused by a fungus that appears between the toes. Fungal germs often occur in small numbers on the human skin which causes no harm. However, if conditions favour, they can invade the skin, multiply and cause infection.
Anyone can experience athlete’s foot. People who sweat more, or wear shoes and socks which make their feet sweaty are vulnerable to this condition. Being contagious, the infection is passed from person to person. Treatment with antifungal drugs usually works well.
Signs and Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot:
Athlete’s foot most commonly affects the skin between the toes or on the bottom of the feet. The affected skin may be:
- Dry, red, scaly and flaky
- White, soggy, and cracked
Gradually, the infection spreads around the foot and to the toenails. Scratching the infected skin and then touching other parts of your body can also spread the contamination along the skin.
In extreme cases, skin affected by athlete’s foot can become infected with bacteria. This can result in a more severe complication called cellulitis, which causes the skin to become red, hot, and swollen.
How do you get Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is caused by fungi growth and multiplication on the skin. The conditions where fungi usually thrive are warm, moist, and airless areas of skin, such as between the toes.
You can get the infection if you:
- Do not keep your feet clean and dry
- Wear socks and shoes regularly
- Share towels and communal bathing
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have other health conditions, such as diabetes
You can also get the condition by touching infected skin and coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
Is Athlete’s Foot Serious?
Certainly not! Using proper medicines, you can get rid of this condition before it spreads along the skin. Sometimes, other parts of the body can be infected. These are usually moist and airless parts of the skin such as the groin.
Fungi do not usually spread deeper than skin. However, other germs may aggravate the condition by entering through the cracked skin of untreated athlete’s foot. This can occasionally cause more severe infections of the foot or leg.
Treatment for Athlete’s Foot:
Even though the condition is not life-threatening, it could lead to serious complications if left untreated. The infection can spread along the skin, causing potential foot disease. Treatment involves using antifungal drugs from pharmacies without needing to see a doctor.
Antifungal drugs are used to prevent the fungus from growing and multiplying, thus affecting your foot. They are available in the form of creams, sprays, liquids, and powders, and are used in the following way:
- Medicines should be applied directly to the affected area of the skin and surrounding area
- Wash and dry damaged skin before applying medication, and clean your hands afterward
- Continue treatment even after the rash has cleared
Antifungal treatments can be quite useful in treating the conditions. A doctor can recommend an antifungal medicine that’s safe for you to use. The treatment varies based on gender, age, and physical health.
In case of sore and itchy rash, a mild steroid cream is often recommended. It gives relief from any discomfort, but this should only be used for a short period, and in combination with antifungal treatment.
See your doctor if there are no signs of improvement even after a week of treatment or if the condition is causing significant pain or discomfort. Your doctor may take a small skin sample for testing and recommend stronger antifungal medicines, including tablets.
Be sure to maintain proper foot hygiene during treatment to speed up recovery and prevent Athlete’s Foot from returning.
Side Effects of Antifungal Medicines:
In some cases, antifungal medicine may cause mild side effects which only last for a short period. They may include:
- Itching and burning
- Feeling sick
- A rash
- Tummy pain
Things to Consider When Using Antifungal Drugs:
Before taking antifungal medicines, be sure to seek medical advice about:
- Any existing conditions or allergies that may affect your treatment for fungal infection
- The possible side effects of antifungal medications
- Whether the antifungal may interact with other medicines, you may be taking
- Whether your antifungal drug is suitable to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding