Athlete’s Foot, or Tinea Pedis, is by far the most common form of fungal infection. It is contagious and can spread easily and is most prevalent among men. Most men, particularly those who use a common locker room, will develop it at some point in their lives. Fortunately, it is also easily treatable and not in any way life threatening. It is more of an irritation than anything else.
Clinically speaking, tinea pedis is a fungal infection that occurs in warm, moist pockets of skin, particularly between the toes. It can also occur on other parts of the foot and the primary symptom is an itching, burning or stinging sensation. Sometimes it can also cause cracks in the skin or blisters on the surface of the skin. Similar fungal infections include ringworm and jock itch. It is contagious but it can be controlled with either over the counter or prescription medications, depending on the severity of the case.
What causes athlete’s foot?
The primary cause of athlete’s foot is the growth of fungi called dermatophytes. These common fungi exist in and on your skin and are usually controlled by exposing the skin to air and keeping it clean and dry. When particular parts of the body, such as the area between your toes, develop warm, moist pockets, the dermatophytes can thrive and this when they cause infection.
Damp socks and shoes are a prime breeding ground for athlete’s foot, which is why most doctors recommend changing your socks and shoes frequently and wearing socks made of natural fiber that allow your feet to breathe. Because dermatophytes grow in warm, moist areas they can be easily spread by walking on wet surfaces such as pool decks, shower rooms and locker rooms. Tinea pedis can also be spread by body to body contact with an infected person.
Because dermatophytes are always present in the skin, even if you successfully clear up the initial infection you may still have a recurrence at any time. That’s why it is so important to take the proper precautions to avoid subsequent outbreaks. Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, especially those that are damp, change your socks and shoes regularly and dry carefully between your toes after every shower in order to lessen your chance of a recurrence.
What are the best treatments for tinea pedis?
Tinea pedis is usually well controlled by application of antifungal liquids, creams, or ointments. There are several popular types available, including Lotrimin, Desenex and Lamisil AT.
Applying one of these medications once or twice a day should help to clear up the infection within a few days. For more persistent cases, stronger prescription medications may be needed, such as the oral antifungal medicine called griseofulvin. Sometimes infection with bacteria complicates tinea pedis and antibiotics are needed to kill the germs.
Some mild to moderate cases of tinea pedis may benefit from formulas such as Athlete’s Foot Treatment by Amoils, a potent natural solution. There are also several other natural remedies that have proven effective in treating athlete’s foot. These include bitter orange, garlic and tea tree oil. Recent studies have shown that each of these substances, applied directly to the skin in the form of oil, can reduce the symptoms of athlete’s foot without any serious side effects. Many people prefer these natural treatments to medications that contain potentially harmful chemical compounds.
If you have a tendency to develop tinea pedis, you should wear socks which are at least 60% cotton. You should change your shoes everyday. Alternate 2-3 pairs of shoes, so the shoes will dry out completely before you use them again. If OTC medications aren’t working for you, check with your doctor to determine your next step in treatment.