What Does Athlete's Foot Look Like?
Athlete’s foot is a common injury seen among sportspeople. It is a minor, though common, skin infection that can be prevented with proper care and caution. Athlete’s foot can be cured with medical help as well as home remedies.
It is a contagious fungal infection commonly associated with public showers and locker rooms.
Athlete's foot is also called tinea pedis, which is a type of fungal infection of the feet. It's also known as ringworm of the foot (the medical name for ringworm is tinea).
According to the American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine, athlete's foot is a very common infection that about 70% of people will contract at some point in their lives.
According to a report in the journal Mycoses, at any given time, athlete's foot occurs in about 10% of the world's population.
Athlete’s foot is very common among people. The infection can be due to negligence and dirtiness, which one should avoid completely. Timely treatment of athlete’s foot can avoid minor injury and easily prevent it from becoming a serious one.
What Causes Athlete's Foot?
Athlete's foot is caused by several types of fungi, including yeasts. Dermatophytes are fungi that require keratin for growth and frequently cause skin diseases which can include foot infections. Trichophyton rubrum and T. interdigitale (formerly called T. mentagrophytes) often cause a condition known as Epidermophyton floccosum, which is also a dominant species of athlete's foot.
The infection occurs when it enters the skin through small cracks. The fungi grow in the top layer of skin, as their microbes require moisture and warmth to proliferate. Although athlete's foot can affect any part of the foot, it most commonly affects the spaces between the toes.
You're more likely to get athlete's foot if you have:
- A genetic predisposition
- Skin allergies or dermatitis
- A weak immune system
- Poor blood circulation in the lower part of the body
- Diabetes or peripheral arterial disease
Athlete's Foot Symptoms
Athlete's foot causes several symptoms that affect the feet, including:
- Red, itchy skin rashes
- Scaling of the skin, mainly the area between the toes or the entire sole of the foot
- Painful cracking of the skin, which causes severe scaling
- Red blisters full of fluid
- Thickened soles of the feet
- If the fungi infection becomes severe, it can spread to the nails, causing the toenails to discolor, thicken, or crumble.
- Athlete's foot can even damage the skin and produce wide open bacterial infections, which cellulitis can take hold of.
Is Athlete's Foot Contagious?
Athlete's foot is very contagious. It can spread widely and cause an infection in the affected skin of someone who has the fungi without having any active infection.
Athlete's foot also spreads when you walk around barefoot on damp, contaminated flooring or hard surfaces of showers, pools, and locker room areas. There are many reasons why one gets athlete's foot. You may get athlete’s foot if you have poor hygiene conditions, such as:
- If you don’t wash and dry your feet after exercising, or getting them wet and sweaty
- If you share personal items, such as socks, shoes, towels, and clothes, with infected persons
- Wearing wet or damp socks or shoes, which can cause your feet to sweat
- Reusing socks wet with sweat without washing
- Wearing shoes that have become old and worn out
- Using alternate shoes between uses
Treatment for Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot is easily treatable, but it needs proper and continuous usage of antifungal lotions, gels, creams, and sprays. You can make use of powders that contain one of the following active ingredients, such as Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Oxiconazole, and Ketoconazole.
Treatment will need to be performed for a period of two to four weeks, as per the instructions given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While using these medications, one has to follow the rules regarding cleanliness and maintain hygiene in daily life.
- Always keep your feet clean and dry, mainly after getting them wet.
- Do not expose your feet in the cold and do not walk on bare feet, which can cause more trouble.
- Do not move around barefoot, and make a habit of wearing sandals as often as possible.
- Avoid wearing heavy closed shoes or thick socks.
- Keep alternative shoes and do not wear the same socks again and again.
- Wash socks clean and dry them well before using.
- If you suffer from the infection, avoid using swimming pools and public showers.
- Consult a doctor if the infection persists.
Best Home Remedies for Athlete's Foot
For athlete's foot, tea tree oil or foot baths are highly useful, as they help minimize the pain. There's no scientific consensus about whether such remedies work 100% or not, and they are not approved by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
According to a survey conducted in 1992 by the Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 10% tea tree oil cream was no better than a placebo at curing athlete's foot. In contrast, the same journal published a report stating that, “50% of tea tree oil solution have cured athlete's foot in about two-thirds of people,” in 2002.
Injuries like athlete’s foot are serious, but can easily come under control with home remedies. But one should make use of these remedies carefully and use them for a longer duration to reduce infection as well as help cure the disease.
Below are two home remedies which can be used:
Cornstarch: Cornstarch is known to absorb moisture quickly. If you can brown the cornstarch first, then it is always better since it would be able to suck out the moisture which would have been present there in between. The process of doing so is, preheat the oven initially. In a separate bowl take around half cup of cornstarch or the quantity should be such that both the feet should be covered enough when you rub them. Place this bowl in the oven and bake only for couple of minutes until the color of the cornstarch changes to light brown. This can be done on the gas or stove as well but ensure it does not burn. Now when the cornstarch cools down, rub it on the feet and toes. Leave it as it is for around five to ten minutes and brush it off with a fresh clean towel. Ensure to wash your hands after applying and brushing it off.
Baking Soda: Baking soda has been one of the most useful product in the kitchen. Apart from cooking, it has been used in other ways as well which has benefitted all of us. Baking soda is known to kill the bacteria and it also works well as an antifungal agent. One can either make a paste of it and apply it on the feet or sprinkle some on the shoes after wearing them. The procedure for doing so is by first washing your feet with warm water and let it dry completely. Now make a paste by mixing three parts of soda to one part of water. Mix it well until a thick paste is not formed. Apply this paste on the feet in a circular motion, ensure to gently do so instead of rubbing it vigorously. Apply it in between the toes as well. Let this dry and fen off. Once done, clean your feet under cool water and completely dry your feet again.