Skin Care Total

Athlete's foot: All you need to know

Athlete's foot is a common skin condition that may cause foot itching, burning, pain, and scaling. While it is commonly caused by a fungal infection, there can be some other causes as well. Learn more about Athlete’s foot, its causes, symptoms and treatment here.

Athlete's foot, also known as tinea pedi and ringworm of the foot, is a common type of skin infection that is caused by a fungus. As the fungus grows and multiplies in warm and moist areas, this infection usually develops between your toes and sometimes on other parts of your foot. There are a variety of fungi that cause athlete's foot. These fungi can spread from one person to another by direct skin-to-skin contact. You can also get infect by these fungi in locations, including gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools and nail salons.

There are three common types of fungal athlete's foot

  • Soles of the feet, also known as moccasin type
  • Between the toes, also called interdigital type
  • Inflammatory type or blistering

Signs and symptoms of athlete's foot

Common symptoms of this infection include various itching and burning between the toes. The skin around the infected area may become dry, flaky, red and scaly. In severe cases, cracking, pain, and bleeding can also be seen. Sometimes, the dry flakes may spread to the sides and tops of the feet. Occasionally, large, open cracks can be seen on the entire foot. If left untreated, the infection may spread from one toe to the next. Sometime untreated athlete's foot can spread to your toenails and make it thick, opaque and crumbly. Pain and inflammation in the skin under the nail is a common symptom.

Who gets athlete's foot?

While any one can get the fungal infection, you are at higher risk of athlete's foot if you frequently wear damp socks or ill-fitting shoes. People, who walk barefoot in public areas like locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools, communal baths and showers, are also more vulnerable to the infection. If you have a weak immunity or are suffering from some illness that has weakened your immune system, then you can easily catch this infection.

Treatment options for athlete's foot

If your athlete's foot is mild, you might use over-the-counter antifungal ointment, lotion, powder or spray to reduce the symptoms. Common over-the-counter medications are Butenafine, Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Terbinafine and Tolnaftate. You can also use natural treatment for athlete’s foot. If your infection doesn't respond to these medications then you may need a prescription medication. Doctor may prescribe you either a topical or oral medication. Clotrimazole and miconazole are popular topical medications, while itraconazole, fluconazole and terbinafine are commonly prescribes oral medications. There are some side-effects of these prescription medications.

While you take the treatment for the infection, it is essential to combine it with self-care techniques. Wash and dry the affected area before applying the medication. Make sure you wash your hands before and after the application.