Summer is here (yay!) and that means sunshine, warm days and spending lots of time outdoors. This is also a time where we do see a lot of patients with Athlete’s Foot, which is clinically known as tinea pedis. There are two main reasons that we see if often around now:
(1) is that fungus thrives in warm, moist conditions – and it’s pretty warm outside so our feet tend to sweat, and
(2) is that because we wear more open-toed shoes, those that have been hoping that it’ll settle and resolve over the winter are now starting to feel a little more self-conscious and decide that it’s time to take action.
Either way, or whatever your reason, your Podiatrist is definitely the right place to get rid of it once and for all.
So, what exactly is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot describes a fungal skin infection that is actually relatively common. It’s common because it’s very contagious and it only takes sharing a shower or a surface (especially gyms, locker rooms and anywhere warm and damp) to become infected yourself. If it infects the nails, it can become very difficult to manage.
What are the symptoms?
If you have contracted Athlete’s Foot, you’ll experience:
- Red scaly patches on the skin of the feet that seems dry
- Stinging or burning
- Breakdown of the skin between the toes that may present as cracks or fissures
How do you treat it?
The first step in managing and eliminating Athlete’s Foot is to have a correct diagnosis from your Podiatrist. Once you’re sure it’s a fungus, you should be doing as much as you can to keep the feet dry, clean, and away from sources of infection. These typically include:
- Keeping the feet dry
- Using absorbent powders if your feet sweat excessively
- Disinfecting infected shoes and socks to demote reinfection
- Wearing absorbent socks that will promote a dry environment
- Wearing open shoes where possible to let the feet air and dry
To treat the fungus directly, your Podiatrist will recommend the right anti-fungal for you to use. This may come in the form of a cream, powder, tablet or other medication. This is best decided by your Podiatrist and pharmacist as oral medications can take a toll on your liver, so must be carefully assessed with regard to your overall health.
If the infection has spread to your toenails, you’ll also need to treat the nails too. This can often be significantly more difficult than treating the skin alone as the fungus can penetrate the nail bed. Your Podiatrist will advise you on the best course of action for this.
Throughout your treatment, care must be taken as the infection can make your skin very fragile and susceptible to damage.
Will the infection come back?
Because fungus spreads so easily, care must be taken to avoid re-infection. This doesn’t necessarily mean picking up an infection from someone else, but also re-infection from wearing your own infected shoes and socks.
Your Podiatrist will run through with you the best ways to minimise your risk of re-infection and to keep the fungus gone. This can include anything from scrubbing down your showers with appropriate agents to hot washing all of your socks, bath mats and shoe liners with an anti-fungal washing detergent.
If you’re battling a fungal infection of your skin or toenails, come in and see our expert team at Perform Podiatry. Worrying about your fungal infection shouldn’t be a part of your summer! Give us a call on 09 523 2333