Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection. It can not only affect the feet but spread to other areas such as the toenails and hands. Many at-home products can help with athlete’s foot, but you may need the help of a podiatrist to treat the condition.
Common Causes of Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus and can be contracted in dark, damp, warm environments. There are other factors that can cause athlete’s foot such as:
- Wearing socks that are damp
- Wearing shoes that are too tight
- Not drying feet and in between the toes after a shower
- Walking barefoot around a public pool, public shower, or locker room
- Sharing towels, bath mats, or other items with a person who has a fungal infection
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot commonly begins between the toes but can spread to other parts of the feet and body. One of the first signs of the infection is a red, scaly rash between the toes. Some common symptoms of athlete’s foot are:
- Itching and burning
- Blisters or ulcers
- Thickened skin
- Unpleasant odor
- Cracking skin
In more severe cases of athlete’s foot, the following symptoms may occur:
Time to See a Podiatrist
If you have tried over-the-counter antifungal products such as cream, spray, powder, or ointment and your athlete’s foot is not improving after two weeks, consult with a podiatrist. Athlete’s foot should not be left untreated since the infection can spread to other areas of the body.
Those with a condition such as diabetes or poor circulation should consult with their doctor at first signs of an infection. These conditions put you at a higher risk of developing a severe bacterial infection of the leg or foot and can lead to further complications.
A podiatrist will examine your feet to diagnose athlete’s foot and determine if the infection has spread. In addition to an examination, a skin sample test may be done to rule out other causes of the infection. If at-home treatment has not worked, your podiatrist may prescribe an oral antifungal medication or a stronger cream, spray, ointment, or powder. A prescription medication will attack the fungus and prevent it from spreading. Your podiatrist will recommend treatment based on your personal case and needs.
Depending on your specific case, athlete’s foot typically can clear up in two to four weeks. To prevent reinfection, you will need to take the prescription as long as it was prescribed by your doctor even if the athlete’s foot has cleared up.
Since athlete’s foot is contagious and easy to contract, there are several ways to prevent developing this condition such as:
- Keep your toes and feet dry and clean.
- Cut your toenails and keep them clean.
- Change your socks often especially if your feet sweat.
- Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
- Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
- Apply antifungal medication at first signs of infection.
- Avoid sharing shoes or socks with others.
If you have athlete’s foot, you will want to make sure you do not spread it to others in your household. Others can contract the condition by touching or using items that you have while you have athlete’s foot. The fungus can be present on bed sheets or clothing. Be sure to wash these items to prevent contaminating others with the infection.
Do You Need The Help Of An Experienced and Caring Podiatrist? Contact Our El Paso Foot Doctor Today.
If you're experiencing any type of foot pain you should speak with an experienced podiatrist as soon as possible. Please contact us online to schedule your appoinment or call one of our convenient El Paso offices directly. To reach our Sierra Tower Building podiatrist office please call 915.533.5151. You can find driving directions here. To reach our George Dieter Drive podiatry office please call 915.856.3331. Driving directions are available here.