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Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)

It is a fungal infection of feet generally affecting the skin between toes and may spread from person to person. It is also called tinea pedis and is seen commonly all over the world.

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): Incidence, age and sex

Athlete’s foot is a very common skin affliction seen in general population. It is more prevalent in young adults, mostly athletes. Men are more predisposed to it than women.

Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): Diagnosis

Athlete’s foot, as the name suggests, commonly affects feet, especially the skin between the fourth and the fifth toes. However it may also inflict the heel of the foot or the palm and fingers of hands. This condition results in redness and cracking of the affected skin along with itching and burning sensation over the area. Sometimes blisters may be seen with pus oozing from them. Occasionally, the infection may spread to the corresponding nails making them discoloured and thick.

Causes and prevention of athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)

Athlete’s foot is caused by fungi belonging to class dermatophytes which thrive well in warm, moist areas. The skin between toes provides an optimum environment for fungi to grow and infect the overlying skin. Wearing tight and occlusive footwear for prolonged periods of time increases the chances of getting athlete’s foot. Increased sweating, persistent moist feet or minor skin/nail injuries also predispose people to this fungal infection. Athlete’s foot is an infectious condition and spreads to others from infected persons directly or indirectly through contaminated stuff.

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): Complications

Athlete’s foot is a recurrent condition which may need long term treatment. Immediate consultation with a skin specialist is recommended when the affected area may show swelling along with blisters which discharge foul smelling pus. Seldom may an individual with athlete’s foot present with high fever which signifies superimposed bacterial infection.

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): Treatment

Topical medications like anti-fungal ointment or cream may help in relief of symptoms. It is advisable to continue this treatment for another 10-15 days after the infection has subsided to prevent any recurrences in future. Regular use of anti-fungal powder is also effective in keeping this fungal infection at bay. Self care plays a vital role in managing athlete’s foot. Such measures include frequent change of socks to avoid dampening of feet, wearing open footwear and drying the feet properly after bath. Medications like antibiotics may be prescribed if secondary bacterial infection has set in.