Athlete’s foot (or tinea pedis as it’s officially known) is a fungal infection that causes severe itching, redness, rash and scaling on the foot. It most often starts between the toes but can spread to other parts of the foot and even other parts of the body if proper precautions are not taken.
The infection loves damp, warm places. At this time of year at Paul S. DeMarco, DPM we see many cases of athlete’s foot because feet are stuck in sweaty socks and heavy shoes, which is the perfect environment for the fungus to grow.
In most cases it is safe to use an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, powder or spray to treat athlete’s foot. If you are diabetic or have other diseases that compromise your immunity or your circulation (or if the infection does not respond to treatment) you need to make an appointment to see our board certified podiatrist, Dr. Paul DeMarco. The foot doctor can often diagnose athlete’s foot simply by sight but he may take a skin sample or scraping to have analyzed at the lab. If the infection is severe, the podiatrist may prescribe an oral antifungal medication.
Stopping Fungus Before it Starts
For athlete’s foot, prevention truly is the best medicine. Since the infection is spread by direct contact, there are some simple steps you can take to avoid athlete’s foot, including:
- Always wear flip flops or shower shoes when walking in public places that are damp and where other people are likely to be barefoot—community pools, gyms, showers, locker rooms and nail salons.
- Don’t share socks, footwear, towels or any other items that touch someone else’s feet.
- Wash feet daily and dry completely, especially between the toes. At home, go barefoot and let feet air out.
- Change socks daily or even more frequently if you sweat profusely. It’s also a good idea to alternate shoes as well and not wear the same ones every day.
- Choose footwear that is made of natural materials and designed to allow air to circulate and your feet to breath. Materials such as vinyl and rubber hold in moisture.
- Use an antifungal powder daily to help keep feet dry and fight fungal infection.
Unusual rashes or other changes in skin on your feet are a sign that something is wrong. If you notice any changes that last for more than a few days, contact our Somers Point office for an appointment by calling: (609) 927-4894.