Athletes foot

Signs & Symptons

Athlete's foot is a common name given to a fungus infection of the skin that predominately occurs in between toes but can occur anywhere on the foot. If left untreated the condition can spread to other parts of the foot, hands and can even affect the face.
This condition can cause a great deal of discomfort and can affect an individual's quality of life. The skin involved may be red, swollen and may contain sticky fluid. Patients may also experience a scaly dry rash on the bottom and sides of feet. This type of athlete's foot is called a "moccasin" pattern. Cracks or "fissures" can occur between the toes.

Symptoms include dry and itchy lesions. Patients often report a burning or stinging sensation. A common associated condition with athletes foot is a fungal nail infection. If athletes foot is not treated the lesion can become infected and extremely painful.

Causes

Athlete's foot is caused by a fungal infection of either one, or both, of your feet. We all have bacteria and fungi on our skin, most of which are harmless. However, in some conditions, these organisms can multiply and cause your skin to become infected. Athlete's foot is caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi are parasitic, which means they feed off other organisms to stay alive. Your feet provide a warm, dark and humid environment, which are the ideal conditions needed for dermatophytes to grow. Athlete's foot is a contagious condition, but there are steps that you can take to help prevent the spread of infection.

Athlete's foot can spread through both direct and indirect contact. Direct contact involves skin to skin contact. For example, someone may develop the infection if they were to directly touch your affected skin, and not wash their hands afterwards. The infection can also spread through indirect contact. For example, the fungi can be passed on through contaminated towels, bed sheets, and clothing.

Showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms are also common places where the infection can be passed on. This is because, like your feet, these places are usually warm and humid, which encourages bacteria and fungi to multiply.

Treatment

Generally the new anti-fungal treatments available from the pharmacist or your podiatrist are very effective in their topical applications. It cannot be stressed enough that success is much higher when combined with a regime of effective laundering of all hosiery, bed sheets and the disinfecting of bathing areas.