Monday April 17, 2017
Our private doctors at London Doctors Clinic are not shy with regard to dealing with 'unpleasant body parts' - we deal with all manner of conditions, from head to toe. And if you think your feet are bad, trust us, we've seen worse!
One of the most common conditions we see affecting the feet is athlete's foot. Despite the name, you don’t have to be the next Usain Bolt to develop athlete’s foot - in fact, anyone who wears trainers on a regular basis is at risk of developing the condition!
What Is Athlete's Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a condition caused by a type of fungus which grows on the skin, most commonly found on your feet. The fungus grows in especially the damp areas of your feet such as between your toes. As with many conditions the actual medical name and the commonly heard of name for the condition are not the same: tinea pedis is the medical name for Athlete's foot.
The fungus that causes Athlete's Foot grows well in the damp areas of your feet (such as between your toes)
Do I Have Athlete's Foot?
Signs of athlete’s foot can vary but the most common indications of the fungal infection are:
- Red, scaly, flaky skin
- Soreness in the skin area
- Itchy sensation on the skin
- Small blisters formed
Does Athlete's Foot Only Affect The Foot?
No. Not only can the fungal infection spread to the skin of the foot, but it can also spread to the toenail too. The infection may not only be localised to the feet: if you were to scratch the infected area and then touch another body part there is a possibility of transmission!
Athlete's Foot Complications
Athlete’s foot is not a serious condition, however can become so if the blisters burst and the area of skin becomes infected - it may lead to cellulitis, which is a bacterial infection of deeper skin tissue. If an infection in the skin area occurs, it will no longer be a superficial redness and the area may become swollen and inflamed too.
Preventing The Spread of Athlete's Foot
Preventing the spread of athlete’s foot is important and being informed of the common places where you can contract the infection is something that could help you avoid catching athlete’s foot in the first place.
The fungi that causes athlete’s foot is commonly found in warm, damp and dark places. Therefore any situation whereby you are creating a warm, damp dark place is going to increase the chance of developing athletes foot!
Top Tips for Preventing Athlete's Foot:
- Dry your after getting them wet - Feet must be dried thoroughly following a bath or shower
- Clean your feet - By not cleaning, you create an environment where the fungi can grow easily!
- Avoid walking bare foot in communal environments whereby someone else who may have athlete’s foot may have walked, for example swimming pools
- Avoid sharing towels with someone who may have athlete’s foot - The spread of athlete’s foot can be via contact between skin or from contact on a contaminated surface.
Avoid walking bare foot in communal environments, like swimming pools
These above tips are especially important if you're more at risk of developing athlete's foot. Risk factors for the development of Athlete's Foot include:
- Being immunocompromised - Those who have a weak immune system are more at risk of developing the infection
- Having diabetes - Diabetics are also more at risk of infections
Athlete's Foot Treatment
Athlete’s foot will not get better on its own, it requires active treatment.
1. Anti-Fungal Medication
The treatment for athlete's foot usually involves antifungal creams, sprays, liquids or powders, which are applied to the infected area. The antifungal creams prevent the growth of the fungi. Before antifungal treatment is applied, the area should be cleaned and dried correctly. The way in which the different forms of antifungal treatments work does not differ however some are found to be more effective and easier to apply.
The most effective antifungal medications out there include clotrimazole and miconazole. The treatment should be topically applied for around 14 days after your symptoms have resided to ensure that the infection has been completely dealt with. It is possible to be prescribed antifungal creams that also contain hydrocortisone, which can be used to reduce the inflammation and soreness of the infected area.
You should consult a doctor before buying any over the counter antifungal medication - depending on your age and whether you are pregnant, not all of the antifungal medications can be given.
2. Steroid Creams
Often due to the location or severity of the rash, it can be very sore and itchy; in this case, it may be recommended that alongside the antifungal treatment, a mild steroid cream is used.
It is also important to prevent the infection from coming back by changing the habits that brought about the fungal infection in the first place. Whilst you are being treated for athlete’s foot, it is important to practice good foot hygiene to aid the recovery.
If you're struggling to manage any of the above symptoms and think you may be suffering from a case of athlete's foot, don't hesitate to book in a GP consultation at London Doctors Clinic - simply choose your most convenient doctors surgery and call or book online!
By George Wall
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