It’s widely known that if the area between your toes feels itchy, you’re likely to have developed athlete’s foot. However, many people are unaware of the other signs of the condition, as well as its causes and potential complications.
With that in mind, we’ve created the following guide to athlete’s foot. It’s designed to give you a clear understanding of this frustrating problem by answering your most pressing questions. If you suspect you have athlete’s foot, read on for facts and tips.
What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot (or tinea pedis, to give the condition its medical name) is a fungal infection affecting the skin on your feet, particularly in-between your toes. The infection usually begins between your smallest toes, as that area retains the most moisture. It may then spread around the rest of your toes and attack other areas of your feet, especially your heels.
What Causes the Infection?
Athlete’s foot is caused by various kinds of fungus from the Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton families. If those microscopic organisms come into contact with your feet, they’ll colonise the area and an infection will occur.
As fungi thrive in warm, damp, dark conditions, the infection is associated with sports enthusiasts’ footwear (hence the name ‘athlete’s foot’); but anyone can be infected.
How Common Is It?
At any given time, approximately 15–30% of the general population are likely to be suffering from athlete’s foot, according to research recently published by the British Medical Journal. In other words, nearly a third of people could be experiencing athlete’s foot right now.
It’s one of the most common conditions we treat at our London chiropody clinics.
What Are the Symptoms?
Athlete’s foot symptoms range from mildly irritating to extremely uncomfortable:
- Soreness, redness and inflammation
- Scaly, cracked, peeling skin
- White areas
Gradually, infected skin becomes either moist or dry, depending on which type of fungus is present. The skin may also split, creating painful fissures and increasing the likelihood of harmful bacteria entering the feet.
In addition, athlete’s foot can cause fungal nail infections and affect other parts of the body.
How Does Athlete’s Foot Spread?
You can catch athlete’s foot through contact with infected feet or objects and surfaces contaminated with infected skin debris, such as bath mats and changing room floors.
It spreads easily between family members, especially if they share towels.
Can It Be Prevented?
Athlete’s foot is highly infectious, but you can reduce your chance of developing it.
- Wash and dry feet thoroughly, without rubbing hard (which damages the skin)
- Change socks every day and avoid wearing the same shoes frequently
- Don’t walk barefoot in communal areas
- Choose shoes made of natural, ‘breathable’ materials
What Treatment Is Available?
Most athlete’s foot infections are treated with topical antifungal medication (i.e. a cream, spray or powder). Applying surgical spirit in-between toes can be beneficial, as it removes excess moisture and has antiseptic properties.
For severe infections, oral antifungal medication may be required, although it’s not suitable for everyone.
London Athlete’s Foot Treatment
Treating athlete’s foot can be a painstaking process. Fortunately, the chiropodists and podiatrists at Feet By Pody have the expertise to make it as easy as possible for you.
Eliminating athlete’s foot is one of the key chiropody services we provide in our well-equipped London clinics. With our knowledge and skills, we can identify the best treatment for your needs and also resolve related foot issues.
For athlete’s foot treatment in London from an experienced chiropodist and podiatrist, please call Feet By Pody today on 0207 099 6657 or book an appointment online.