Athlete’s foot is caused by the tinea fungus. It is the same fungus that causes jock itch and ringworm. Although it’s called athlete’s foot, it is not restricted to sportspersons and athletes only. One can catch the disease through direct contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the fungus or through contact with an infected person. The fungus grows in warm and humid conditions. It generally thrives in public showers, locker room floors, around swimming pools, and even damp shoes and socks. Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating can also cause athlete’s foot as it increases the probability of fungal infection.
Read on to know more about this fungal infection
What are the symptoms of this disease?
Athlete’s foot usually starts with an itchy and burning rash. The itching becomes worse after taking off socks and shoes. There can be small blisters as well that look like tiny pimples. When it occurs between the toes, the skin becomes pale as if it has been over-exposed to moisture or sweat. The rashes will have fine scaling skin with a powdery appearance. There can be redness and the skin may start to peel. In some cases, there can be a foul odor as well.
Some people may have a moccasin variety of athlete’s foot, which causes scaling and chronic dryness on the soles. It can even extend to the side of the foot. The infection may occur in one foot or both feet. It can slowly spread to the hands if one constantly scratches or picks at the infected parts.
Are there any further complications?
Complications can arise in the case of severe athlete’s foot. Secondary bacterial infection can develop. This can lead to swelling of the foot. The swelling can be painful and become warm. There can be the formation of pus and drainage may also occur. Drainage occurs when the blisters burst and bleed letting out pus. Some may even have a fever due to these painful complications.
If not treated sooner, the infection can spread to the toenails. Treatment becomes quite difficult when the fungus spreads to this area. Moreover, the infection can spread to the groin area causing jock itch.
What are the risk factors?
It has been observed that men are more susceptible to athlete’s foot. Tightfitting shoes that do not allow the feet to breathe can increase the risk of athlete’s foot. Wearing damp closed footwear or socks can also make one more susceptible to this infection. Wearing unwashed socks for more than a day is another risk factor. Sharing rigs, mats, shoes, bed linens, and clothes with a person who has any fungal infection can also cause athlete’s foot. Walking barefoot in public areas such as saunas, locker rooms, communal baths, showers, and swimming pools will also make one more prone to this fungal infection.
How to prevent athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot can be easily prevented by following simple hygiene and cleanliness habits. Ensure to keep both feet dry, especially the area between the toes, after a shower or bath. Sprinkle fragrance-free antifungal powder to keep feet completely dry and to keep fungus away. When at home, be barefoot to air out both feet. If a person sweats excessively, it is recommended that they change socks twice a day. Go for shoes made of light and natural materials. The structure should be such that the feet are well-ventilated all the time. Avoid shoes made of vinyl, rubber, and other synthetic materials. Try to wear alternate pairs of shoes every. Give the shoes a day to air out and let the sweat dry after every use. When walking around public places such as public pools, locker rooms, and showers, ensure to wear waterproof sandals. Avoid sharing shoes as it increases the risk of the infection spreading.