Athlete's foot refers to ringworm (or fungus) of the foot. This usually occurs in people with very sweaty feet that are often confined in tight-fitting shoes. It is, however, estimated that almost 70 percent of all people will, at some point in their lives, have a fungal infection (1). This fungal infection can often first be seen between your toes (2). It is highly contagious and it can be spread through clothing, towels and floors.
It can be treated with antifungal medications (over-the-counter), but unfortunately, the infection sometimes recurs. Immune system disorders and excessive sweating can also be predisposing to infection. Click here for home remedies for sweaty feet.
A red rash can usually be seen between the toes. Ulcers and blisters can also be a symptom. It usually itches quite a lot after you have taken your socks and shoes off. It also causes chronic scaling and dryness on the soles and sides of the foot. If you scratch the infected parts often, it might even spread to your hands.
If you have diabetes or if the rash doesn't improve after treating it yourself, make sure to go see your doctor.
You know you have an infection when a red rash develops between the toes or when blisters and ulcers are formed. It itches quite a lot and dryness and scaling can be experienced.
Am I At Risk?
The chances of developing athlete's foot is higher if you:
- Walk barefoot in areas such as public bathrooms, communal showers, saunas, swimming pools, saunas and locker rooms (3).
- Are male.
- Often wear damp socks and tight-fitting shoes. Damp shoes and socks, as well as humid, warm conditions, favor the growth of the organism.
- Share bed linens, shoes, or mats with someone who has a fungal infection.
You are at risk if you often walk barefoot in public, damp places, such as communal showers, and public swimming pools. If your feet easily get sweaty, are often in a tight-fitting shoe and if you share bed linen and shoes with someone who are already infected you might be at risk.
How Can I Prevent It?
- Change your socks on a regular basis. If your feet are prone to getting sweaty, change your socks a few times a day (4).
- Keep your toes and feet dry. Walk barefoot as much as you can and make sure to dry your feet - especially between your toes - after taking a shower or bath.
- Wear different shoes every day. Try not to wear the same pair of shoes every day to give your shoes time to dry properly each time (5).
- Wear ventilated shoes. Do not wear shoes that are made of a material such as rubber or vinyl.
- Use antifungal powder on your feet on a daily basis.
- Wear shoes when entering communal showers, public pools and locker rooms.
- Remove the insoles of your sneakers and shoes if possible, so they can dry properly.
This fungal infection can be prevented by having proper foot hygiene and making sure that you keep your feet, socks and shoes dry.
How To Get Relief From Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot can resolve by itself, but often the use of antifungal medication is advised. Prolonged or severe infections may require an oral antifungal medication. It can also be treated with topical gels, creams, powders or sprays. This can also alleviate itching and inflammation.
Conventional treatment would involve washing the feet thoroughly once or twice a day and then applying a topical medication. If good hygiene is practiced and feet are kept dry, the fungus can be killed and reinfection can be prevented (6). Treating your feet may not be enough, as shoes and socks that have been worn previously can reinfect the feet. Wash your socks at 60 Celsius or try adding bleach with your laundry detergent.
Fungal infections can be treated by using antifungal medications (either oral or topical). Remember to also treat socks and shoes after treating your feet.
The Different Types Of Infections You Can Get On Your Feet
- An ulcerative infection is quite unusual, but with this type of infection, your feet will develop ulcers or open sores. Your skin also gets discolored and inflamed and it is also said to be very painful.
- Toe infections are found between your toes or fingers. The skin might be scaly, peeling or red and it may smell (7).
- A vesicular infection is a medical term for blisters. You can get a bacterial infection when one of them bursts. They are usually seen on the soles of your feet which might become worse in summer.
- A moccasin infection covers the sole of your foot and it can spread along the side of your foot and heal as well. This type of infection may advance to your nails which may cause them to fall out or become crumbly and thick. To treat nail fungus, you can try this supplement.
There are different types of fungal infections that can cause serious irritation. With the first type, ulcers and sores develop on the feet (ulcerative infection). You can also get an infection between the toes, a vesicular infection that causes blisters to form as well as a moccasin infection that covers the sole of the foot.
Our Ultimate Take Home Message
You will know you have athlete's foot when you develop a red, itchy scratch on your feet. It can also come in the form of blisters, ulcers, scaling and dryness. You are at greater risk when you often walk barefoot in communal bathrooms, showers and public swimming pools, are male and have a tendency of sweaty feet. It can be treated by making use of antifungal medications, such as gels and creams or even oral medication.