Athlete's foot is a term for almost any inflammatory skin disease that affects the sole of the foot and the skin between the toes. It is typically a scaly, red, raw-appearing eruption and occasionally may be weepy and oozing with small blisters. It affects both the feet of athletes and non-athletes alike. Although it is frequently caused by a fungal infection, other causes may be indistinguishable without proper testing.
Athlete's foot usually causes red rash. The rash typically begins in between the toes. Itching is most often the worst right after you take off your shoes and socks. Some types of athlete's foot feature blisters or ulcers. The moccasin variety of athlete's foot causes chronic dryness and scaling on the soles that extends up the side of the foot. It can sometimes be mistaken for eczema or even as dry skin. The infection can affect one or both feet and can spread to your hand.
Dermatitis affecting the foot can be caused by contact allergens, irritants, sweat and rash, poorly fitting shoes, psoriasis, bacterial toe web infections, and fungal infections.
- Fungi cause athlete's foot.
- These fungi can be contracted by sharing the shoes or socks of an infected person.
- They need a warm moist environment to flourish and can be found growing on the floors of locker rooms and public showers and in swimming pools.
You are at higher risk of athlete's foot if you:
- Are a man
- Frequently wear damp socks or tightfitting shoes
- Share mats, rugs, bed linens, or shoes with someone who has a fungal infection
- Walk barefoot in public areas where the infection can spread, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, and showers
The most reliable way to diagnose athlete’s foot is to correctly identify its cause. Fungal athlete's foot is relatively straightforward to diagnose and treat. Visualization of the fungus in skin scrapings removed from the affected areas of the feet is a painless and rather cost-effective method for diagnosis. Sometimes, it is necessary to identify fungi in portions of skin removed during a biopsy. If no fungus is found, other causes of athlete's foot must be investigated.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams are sufficient for treating most cases of athlete's foot. Always make sure to apply them as directed to the toes and foot. Common brands include Lotrimin and Lamasil. If the topical antifungal medications do not clear up the infection, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication. If you are unsure of your diagnosis or you plan to visit a physician within the next month, the application of 1% hydrocortisone cream would be a reasonable therapeutic tactic. Since many of the causes of foot dermatosis are not infections, they may respond to this medication.
Multiple home remedies are available, including vinegar soaks, dilute Clorox soaks, and some special shampoos. You can try these:
- Dilute vinegar soaks or sprays - roughly one part white household vinegar to four parts water
- Dilute Clorox baths or soaks - approximately 1/4 cup household Clorox bleach in one bathtub of water
Athlete’s foot infections can be mild or severe. Some clear up pretty quickly, and others last much longer. Athlete’s foot infections generally respond well to antifungal treatment. However, sometimes fungal infections are difficult to eliminate. Long-term treatment with antifungal medications may be necessary to keep athlete’s foot infections from returning back again.