Frequently Asked Questions About Athlete’s Foot and How To Prevent It

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athlete's foot

Tinea Pedia, commonly known as Athlete’s Foot, is a contagious fungal infection on the skin of the feet, which may spread to toenails and even the hand. It starts with an itching sensation in the foot and leads to burning, pain, the formation of cracks and blisters. Besides looking gross, it feels quite uncomfortable and offers tremendous convenience for the person to walk around bare feet, let alone in shoes.

The main cause of this infection is some mold-like microorganisms that feed on the dead cells of your skin, nails, and hair. Although numerous types of fungi live on your feet and other parts of your body, a lot of them are quite benign. But the foot fungi that cause Athlete’s Foot can be a real nuisance.

Generally, the infection starts from between the toenails, they may spread to other areas of the foot or hands rather quickly. Hence, it’s important to avoid getting it and when you do, despite the precautions, you should waste no time in treating it.

Let’s now answer a few questions that most people have regarding the foot fungus and Athlete’s foot to help them prevent the infection as much as possible and treat it the right way, in case they get it.

Is Athlete’s Foot contagious?

It can be contagious, depending on the way you treat it. Mostly, the Athlete’s Foot develops from walking barefoot in wet areas like swimming pool decks, moist grass, and other places for a long time. This apart, if you don’t wash and dry your feet every day properly, or don’t change your shoes and socks often, you may develop Tinea Pedia. Sharing towels, sheets, or other common things from a person having the infection can also increase your chances of getting it.

How can an Athlete’s Foot be diagnosed?

Generally, it’s the common symptoms that give it away. If there is still any confusion, the podiatrist may conduct effective skin tests to confirm the infection. One of the frequent and highly effective tests for Tinea Pedia is the skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam that involves scraping a piece of the infected skin off and putting it in the KOH solution. It damages the normal cells, leaving the fungal ones intact, which are easily diagnosed through a microscope.

How does the infection spread?

You can get it from someone, who already has it, by sharing his/her things like towels, kerchiefs, and slippers. The fungi enter your body through cracks when they come in contact with your barefoot. Therefore, you may even get it if you walk bare feet on the decks of public swimming pools, showers, or a locker room.

How can it be treated?

It can easily be treated with anti-fungal medicines, if the self-care strategies, like soaking your feet in saltwater or vinegar or applying tea-tree oil on the blister, don’t work. The experts at opine that you should consult a podiatrist immediately if the infection remains longer than usual. They will prescribe effective anti-fungal drugs to get rid of it soon.

Who has greater chances of developing the infection?

Everyone may get an Athlete’s Foot, but the chances are higher for professional swimmers, who may visit public pools, showers and locker rooms often, people living in the dorms and sharing stuff like shoes, socks, towels, and other belongings, and the people, who have to keep their shoes on for the most part of the day, like athletes, field workers, and farmers. You may also develop Tinea Pedia if you already have a nail injury or a minor skin infection on your feet.

How safe are pedicure kits in preventing the infection?

They aren’t! It’s best to carry your kit to the salon, as they can’t be expected to clean and disinfect the tools every time a customer uses them. So stay safe by taking your tools along for the pedicure session.

What are the common symptoms of Tinea Pedia?

Some of the common symptoms of the infection include itchy rashes between your toes, red blisters on the soles of your toes, fluid-leaking ulcers that also smell gross, scaly, and dry soles that reach the sides of your foot. If you have noticed any of these symptoms for a long time, you should consult your podiatrist right away to get it treated.

What are the characteristics of the fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot?

Generally, it’s the same fungus that causes jock itch, another skin infection, and ringworms, which causes Athlete’s Foot. It thrives in moist places like damp feet, sweaty shoes, socks, carpets, tiles, and so on. If you visit public places like gyms, swimming pools, locker rooms, sports fields, and showers often, you should take extra precautions and clean your feet properly to steer clear of the fungus.

Can the infection go away by itself?

No, it doesn’t! The fungus loves to stick to your skin unless you force it to leave you alone. The sooner you consult your doctor and get those anti-fungal drugs, the easier it will be to get rid of the infection.

Is there only one type of Athlete’s Foot?

No! Depending on specific symptoms, they can be classified into four main types of infections – Moccasin, Toe Web infection, Ulcerative and Vesicular Infection. While the Moccasin infection mainly occurs on the sole of your foot, the Toe Web one is seen between the toes. The Vesicular infection causes red blisters, while the Ulcerative infection develops open ulcers and can grow bacteria if not treated immediately.

How to prevent getting the infection in the future?

If you have just got your Athlete’s Foot treated, you should take good care of your feet to prevent a resurgence in the future. Avoid moist places as much as possible, don’t walk barefoot in public areas, don’t share others’ belongings, clean your stuff regularly, don’t wear the same socks or shoes for longer periods, and clean your feet with soap and water regularly.

Wrapping it up

An Athlete’s Foot can give you huge discomfort and may hamper your day-to-day life, as you will face immense difficulties in walking. If the blisters burst or the ulcers are kept unattended for days, they may even cause bacterial infections. So, it’s best to consult an experienced podiatrist right away to get back to your normal life as soon as possible.

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