Athelete's Food

Who gets athlete's foot and how do you get it?

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the skin on the feet. The conditions fungi like best are warm, moist and airless areas of skin, such as between the toes. Athlete's foot can also be passed on from person to person through infected skin flakes that are shed. For example, this may occur in communal showers used by athletes or swimmers. Once a small patch of infection develops, it typically spreads along the skin.

Symptoms of athlete's foot

The skin between the little toes tends to be affected at first. A rash develops that becomes itchy and scaly. The skin may become cracked and sore. Tiny flakes of infected skin may fall off. The rash may spread gradually along the toes if left untreated.

Is athlete's foot serious?

Most people treat their itchy toes before it spreads. Sometimes the infection spreads to the skin on other parts of the body. These are usually the moist and airless parts of the skin such as the groin. The infection restricts itself to the layers of the skin; however, other germs (bacteria) may enter through the cracked skin of untreated athlete's foot. This can occasionally cause more serious infections of the foot or leg especially in individuals whose immunity is deficient like diabetics and people suffering from HIV.

Occasionally nails may get infected. Treatment of fungal nail infection requires use of orally ingested antifungal agents over a prolonged period of time.

What is the treatment for athlete's foot?

You can buy an antifungal cream from pharmacies, or get one on prescription. There are various types and brands - for example: terbinafine, clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, and miconazole.

Apply the cream to the rash and the surrounding 4-6 cm of normal skin that has been washed in lukewarm water with a mild antiseptic soap and tapped dry.

Apply for as long as advised. Although the rash may seem to go quite quickly, you still need to apply the cream for 1-2 weeks after the rash has gone. This is to clear the fungi completely from the skin, which will prevent the rash from returning.

For skin that is particularly inflamed, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream combined with a mild steroid cream. This would normally be used for no more than seven days.

An antifungal tablet is sometimes prescribed if the infection does not clear with a cream, or if the infection is severe, or if the infection is in many places on the skin in addition to the toes. For example, terbinafine, griseofulvin, or itraconazole tablets.

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, people with other conditions or who are on other medication, or children aged lesser than 12 may not be able to use certain types of treatment. Check with your doctor if you come into one of these groups.

  • Wash your feet daily, and dry the skin between your toes thoroughly after washing.
  • Do not share towels in communal changing rooms. Wash towels frequently.
  • Change your socks daily. Cotton socks and leather footwear are probably better than nylon socks and plastic footwear, which increase sweating.
  • Alternate between different shoes every 2-3 days to allow each pair to dry out fully after being worn.
  • Ideally, wear flip-flops or plastic sandals in communal changing rooms and showers. This prevents the soles of your feet coming into contact with the ground, which may contain flakes of skin from other people.
  • When at home, leave your shoes and socks off as much as possible to let the air get to your feet.

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