It is not just athletes or sports personnel who tend to develop Athlete’s foot or Tinea Pedis. This ringworm infection of the feet and toes could affect anyone pushing the limits of their feet-from dancers to walkers to joggers to swimmers to children and pets –anyone could develop Athlete’s Foot under certain circumstances.
Definition of Athlete’s Foot or Tinea Pedis: How does one get it?
Athlete’s Foot is caused by fungi called dermatophytes. This fungus grows on the skin of the feet when the conditions are favorable. In general, people with sweaty feet tend to develop this infection. The skin affected starts flaking and peeling and there may be itchiness and burning pain accompanying it. The fungus generally requires warm, moist or humid conditions to grow.Tinea Pedis does not affect just athletes; it could bother anyone having the tendency to wear closed warm shoes for long periods of time, or people who sweat a lot or need to work in wet conditions with their feet logged in water for long durations.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Apart from athletes, many people –adults and kids alike- are known to suffer from recurrent Athlete’s Foot. This skin disease is characterized by following symptoms:
- Red, itchy feet
- Burning sensation
- Oozing blisters.
The fungus gradually spreads to the toe nails which can become discolored or black and even crumble. The entire nail bed could also fall off. People who get Athlete’s Foot often simultaneously suffer from ringworm infections on other parts of their body including the groin, scalp, beard, neck, arms, legs etc.
Treatment for Athlete’s Foot for non-athletes
Treating Athlete’s Foot in sportsmen and athletes is difficult since these people constantly need to wear socks and shoes under sweaty conditions for several hours each day. Still, precautions like wearing the right material of socks, and airing out the feet from time to time can help. Certain anti fungal pills, powders and creams can also help prevent Tinea Pedis in both athletes and other sufferers.
- It is important to keep feet clean and dry always.
- Wash feet with antimicrobial soap at least twice a day. Dry them each time.
- Wear clean socks and change them frequently.
- Wash all clothing-especially underwear and socks in hot water to kill the fungal spores. Failure to do this will cause the spread of the infection.
Athlete’s Foot normally responds well to self care precautions. However, it is also an infection that can come back if proper care is not taken. It is very important to see a doctor immediately if the infection does not clear up within 2 weeks. You might need prescription grade terbinafine or ketoconazole for treating the same. In some cases, scratching the ringworm infection could lead to secondary or bacterial skin infections. In such a case, you might even need antibiotics alongside the antifungal medication.
Prognosis and possible complications
Depending on the severity of the infection, your Athlete’s Foot may be classified as mild moderate or severe. Often the infection simply comes back and goes away once the right medicine is used. Long term medication and stringent preventive measures are naturally required to avoid recurrence and possible complications such as cellulitis.
When should you see a doctor?
Call your healthcare provider right away if:
- The skin in the afflicted region is warm to touch or oozes pus or blood.
- If you have diabetes or other immunity-compromising health condition.
Prevention and precaution
- Dry your feet after bathing, swimming etc
- Avoid walking barefoot on floors near swimming pools, public baths etc. These wet floors are breeding grounds for fungi and you could pick up ringworm from them. Always wear clean and dry flip-flops or sandals when walking in these areas.
- Wear good quality footwear with highly absorbent socks. Shoes should especially be well ventilated and preferably made of natural breathable materials such as leather.
- Liberally apply antifungal products (powders/creams) on the afflicted areas as prescribed by the doctors, before wearing socks and shoes-(preferably after bathing and patting the feet dry).
- Take oral medication as advised. Complete the dosage. Do not stop even if you start feeling better. Failure to do so might cause ringworm to recur.
- Avoid sharing personal items like socks, shoes etc with other people.
Your feet can take you to new challenges and opportunities provided you make a conscious choice to care for them. If your feet are happy, you are happy; if your feet are miserable, you are miserable. We hope you can treat and prevent Athlete’s foot for non athletes using this important information given in this guide.