WHAT IS ATHLETE’S FOOT?
Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal skin infection, and usually begins between the toes. It is closely related to other fungal skin infections like jock itch and ringworm, as well as fungal toenails. (All are caused by the same kinds of fungi, so they can actually spread from one place to another.)
These fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, and spread quickly through direct contact with infected surfaces. This includes the insides of shoes, especially for those who sweat a lot (such as athletes), as well places like locker rooms, pools, showers, and restrooms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ATHLETE’S FOOT?
Athlete’s foot may sometimes be difficult to distinguish from other kinds of skin infections, such as eczema or psoriasis. If you aren’t sure about what you have or how to deal with it, it’s never a bad idea to give our office a call.
One of the first signs of athlete’s foot is that the skin on the affected area will be moist and pale white. You may also experience itching and burning in the affected area. As athlete’s foot progresses, your skin may even peel and crack.
There are three types of athlete’s foot, and each one may affect your feet differently:
- Toe Web Infection.
This is the most common type of athlete’s foot infection, usually beginning between the fourth and fifth toes. It develops much as was described above. Some people with this type of athlete’s foot may also develop a bacterial infection. This could further cause the skin to break down.
- Moccasin-Type Infection.
This infection begins with minor irritation, dryness, itching, burning, or scaly skin on the sole and heel. As it progresses, the skin will become thickened and cracked, and start to peel. In the most severe cases, the toenails will become infected. If they do, they may thicken, crumble, and possibly even fall out. It is often mistaken as dry skin or eczema.
- Vesicular-Type Infection.
The vesicular (blister) infection will usually begin as a sudden outbreak of fluid-filled areas under the skin. The blisters typically develop on the bottom of the foot, but can sometimes also occur on the heel, between the toes, or on the top of the foot. You can also develop a bacterial infection with this type of athlete’s foot.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Athlete’s Foot?
These conditions are very common for young athletes, so if you have an athlete at home, pay close attention to their personal hygiene and just how well they are taking care of their feet.
That being said, anyone can contract athlete’s foot, although some people are naturally more prone than others. You don’t have to be a certain age, or even play sports. Your feet could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Factors that increase your chances of contracting athlete’s foot include:
- Walking barefoot in public locker rooms, restrooms, pools, and showers
- Sharing socks, shoes, or towels with an infected person
- Wearing tight-fitting, closed-toe shoes that don’t allow your feet to breathe
- Wearing the same pair of shoes every day
- Having wet feet for long periods of time
- Having sweaty feet
- Having a minor skin or nail injury on your foot
- Having another active fungal infection (such as fungal toenails)