Do you have itchy feet or just a spot on one foot that intensely itches? One likely cause is tinea pedis, many refer to as athletes foot. It’s an extremely itchy fungal infection that can recur over and over for some, particularly under sweaty conditions.
Athletes foot fungal infection is usually caused by Trichophyton fungus. This pathogen infects skin, hair and nails, feeding on keratin and thriving in warm moist environments. Thus, the foot is an ideal location for this ringworm type skin infection to multiply rapidly and flourish.
Athlete’s foot may cause a skin problem anywhere on your foot, but is frequently found on the soles or between the toes. Your exposure to this fungus could have come from a variety of sources, most often from exposing your feet to damp places where someone with athletes foot previously walked, e.g. locker room, around public swimming pool and gymnasium. However, just because you walk barefoot in these places doesn’t necessarily result in athletes foot as some are more prone to getting this fungal skin infection than others.
Symptoms of your fungal infected area may cause your skin to:
- burn & sting
- be red & itchy
- crack, flake, peel
- become blistered, crusty
- ooze smelly liquid causing stinky feet
If the fungus spreads to your nails the health condition is called onychomycosis, which can cause them to discolor, thicken and crumble.
Because fungi thrive in warm, moist areas, your risk increases significantly by:
- feet sweat profusely
- allow your feet to stay wet for a long time
- wearing closed shoes, especially those made of plastics
One of the most effective treatments for athletes foot is OTC antifungal powder or cream that contain miconazole, clotrimazole or tolnaftate. Continued treatment even for a couple of weeks after your infection symptoms subside helps prevent its return. Favorites of those who prefer a natural remedy is tea tree oil or diluted white vinegar soaks.
Once you’ve suffered a bout of athletes foot, your chances for having another is plausible. Your best course of action is to take the steps necessary to prevent another round of itchy feet. The most important measure is to keep your feet clean and dry, especially between your toes. After bathing or swimming take some extra time to meticulously dry them. This one simple task is paramount. Also, wear open toed shoes or only wear ones made of breathable and absorbent material, leather is good. And stick with cotton socks.
Last but not least, always wear something on your feet (for instance sandals or flip-flops) while walking about damp surfaces open to the public.