Athlete’s foot is also known as tinea pedis, and is a skin infection of the foot caused by a fungus. Fungi often grow in a warm, humid enviornment, which help with fungal growth.
Athlete’s foot may spread to the toenails and can also be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere. The fungus can be spread from person to person by contact with these objects. However, without proper growing conditions (a warm, moist environment), the fungus will not infect the skin.
Athlete’s foot is usually characterized by itching and burning feet, dry skin, scaling, inflammation, and blisters. In more severe cases, the skin may crack and bleed. If the condition of the skin is compromised enough with cracking, bleeding, or other predisposing health conditions such as diabetes, decreased immunity and poor circulation, then a bacterial superinfection can occur. This can be especially difficult to treat and it can lead to further complications.
Treatment options for fungal infections include making sure the infected area is clean and dry, thus less suitable for the fungus to grow. It is important to wear breathable shoesand absorbent socks that wick water away from your feet such as cotton socks will help. A quality medicated foot powder can help keep feet dry.
Antifungal creams can also be used to treat athlete’s foot. Sometimes, agressive fungal infections require oral systemic treatment and these should be discuss with your dermatologist.