What Causes Athlete’s Foot

02 May What Causes Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot: Causes and Treatment

Your feet carry you through a lot in one day. They help you get to work, exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, all that activity can also attract germs and viruses that cause ingrown nail, fungal nail, athlete’s foot and other problems.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a common foot problem that can strike anyone at any time.

Athlete’s Foot

You know it when you feel it. Athlete’s foot is known for the intense itching it causes on the soles of your feet. The itching is especially intense between the toes.

Athlete’s foot has other symptoms such as scaling, peeling, and swelling. Your feet may look red and irritated. Scratching just makes it worse.

A type of athlete’s foot called “moccasin” causes the itchy scales to spread from the bottom of your feet up the sides. The peeling can be so pronounced that should you might mistake it for a skin condition like eczema.

Athlete’s foot won’t go away on its own. But the good news is that it can be cured. A podiatrist can prescribe foot care treatments that will ease the itch, reduce the swelling and make the ugly scaling disappear.

Causes of Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is caused by a virus. The three most common ones are Trichophyton rubrum, Epidermophyton floccosum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

These viruses feed on keratin, a protein found in high levels on your feet. They thrive in warm, humid environments. Athlete’s foot is contagious.

You can probably see why swimming pools, saunas, and public showers are prime breeding grounds for the viruses that cause athlete’s foot. These are warm, damp places shared by lots of people and lots of feet.

Foot Care Can Prevent Athlete’s Foot

To avoid athlete’s foot, fungal nail and ingrown nail, follow these tips for healthy feet.

  • Wipe your feet if they’re sweaty
  • Remove your damp socks and shoes after exercise or on hot days.
  • Never share towels or socks with anyone else.
  • If you’re using a public shower, sauna or hot tub, use your own flip-flops and wash them after each use.
  • Whenever it’s safe to do so, walk barefoot to let the skin of your feet breathe.
  • Be especially careful if you have cracks or cuts on your feet, as the virus can easily enter them.
  • Never sleep with socks on.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Certain conditions can put you at higher risk for catching athlete’s foot. If you’re on this “most likely” list, always consult a podiatrist about your foot symptoms.

Hyperhidrosis. If you sweat excessively, you might suffer from this condition and be more at risk for athlete’s foot.

Improper footwear. Wearing shoes that don’t have any ventilation will keep your feet encased in the kind of warm, damp environment that attracts the virus.

Skin conditions. People with psoriasis and dermatitis are prone to developing athlete’s foot.

Circulatory problems. If you have diabetes and are showing symptoms of athlete’s foot, you should consult a podiatrist immediately.

Treating Athlete’s Foot

There are many home remedies for athlete’s foot, ranging from tea tree oil to soaking your feet in vinegar. These remedies might provide temporary relief of the itching, but they do nothing to kill the virus or clear up your symptoms.

Your best bet is to visit a podiatrist who can prescribe a topical, antifungal ointment. The most commonly prescribed medicines include butenafine, clotrimazole, econazole, miconazole or naftifine. If the athlete’s foot also has an accompanying infection, which can happen when bacteria enters cracks in the skin, you’ll also need an antibiotic.

You’ll start feeling better as soon as you start using your medication. Most cases of athlete’s foot clear up in about two weeks.

At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we treat athlete’s foot every day. Don’t spend another minute suffering from the constant burning, itching, and peeling of athlete’s foot. If you’re experiencing these or any other foot symptoms, call our office today and get ready for relief.

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