Ringworm of the foot

Other names: Athlete's foot

DEFINITION

Athlete's foot (Tinea Pedis) is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It occurs most commonly in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tight-fitting shoes. Signs and symptoms of Athlete's foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging, and burning. Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread via contaminated floors, towels, or clothing. Athlete's foot is closely related to other fungal infections such as ringworm and Jock itch. It can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, but the infection often recurs. Prescription medications are also available.

SYMPTOMS

Athlete's foot usually causes a scaly red rash that typically begins between the toes. Itching is often the worst right after you take off your shoes and socks. Some types of Athlete's foot feature blisters or ulcers. The moccasin variety of athlete's feet causes chronic dryness and scaling on the soles that extends up the sides of the feet. It can be mistaken for eczema or even as Dry skin. The infection can affect one or both feet and can spread to your hand — especially if you scratch or pick at the infected parts of your feet.

When to see a doctor: If you have a rash on your foot that doesn't improve within a few weeks after self-treatment, see your doctor. Seek medical advice sooner if you have Diabetes and suspect you have Athlete's foot or if you notice excessive redness, swelling, drainage, or Fever.

CAUSES

Athlete's foot is caused by the same type of fungus that causes ringworm and Jock itch. Damp socks and shoes and warm, humid conditions favor the organism's growth. Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread by contact with an infected person or from contact with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, floors, and shoes.

RISK FACTORS

You are at higher risk of Athlete's foot if you:

COMPLICATIONS

Your Athlete's foot infection can spread to other parts of your body, including:

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Your family doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) can diagnose Athlete's foot. You don't need any special preparations for an appointment to diagnose Athlete's foot.

What you can do: Before your appointment, you might want to write down a list of questions to ask your doctor.

What to expect from your doctor: Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

In some cases, your doctor may be able to diagnose Athlete's foot simply by looking at it. To help confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions, your doctor might:

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

If your Athlete's foot is mild, your doctor may suggest using an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, lotion, powder, or spray. If your Athlete's foot doesn't respond, you may need a prescription-strength medication to apply to your feet. Severe infections may require antifungal pills that you take by mouth.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

These tips can help you avoid Athlete's foot or ease the symptoms if infection occurs:


QUESTIONS

  1. What is athlete’s foot?

A fungal infection that usually begins between the toes.

  1. What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?

Scaly rash causing itching, stinging, burning; blisters or ulcers; chronic dryness on soles.

  1. How is athlete’s foot diagnosed?

Through skin scrapings viewed under a microscope or lab testing.

  1. What increases the risk of athlete’s foot?

Being male, wearing damp socks/tight shoes, sharing items with infected individuals.

  1. Can athlete’s foot spread to other body parts?

Yes, it can spread to hands, nails, and groin.

  1. When should one see a doctor for athlete’s foot?

If the rash doesn’t improve within weeks after self-treatment.

  1. How can athlete’s foot be treated?

With over-the-counter antifungal medications or prescription-strength options for severe cases.

  1. What lifestyle changes can help with athlete’s foot?

Keeping feet dry, changing socks regularly, wearing well-ventilated shoes.

  1. Is athlete’s foot contagious?

Yes, it can be spread through contact with infected persons or contaminated surfaces.

  1. What complications can arise from untreated athlete’s foot?

Spread to hands/nails/groin; resistant infections in toenails; similar infections like Jock itch may develop.