Steps to Eliminate Athlete's Foot
After a long run or a day on your feet at the factory, you may feel an itching or burning sensation in the area between or under your toes. You take off your shoes and socks and notice that the skin has red patches with some white, scaly skin flaking off. Where did that come from? Chances are you have developed a common foot ailment that strikes men, women, and children alike: athlete’s foot. It’s a pesky, uncomfortable skin infection that can happen whether you are an athlete or not.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
The culprit is usually a microscopic fungus that causes an infection in your skin. These organisms (dermatophytes) do well in environments with plenty of moisture and not much air—like your shoes. You pick up the fungus by contact with surfaces where they live, like public pools, showers, saunas, and even damp towels and floors. Your feet perspire a lot, and the moisture is trapped inside your socks and shoes for long periods of time. The fungi have the perfect warm, wet place to grow and spread. They feed on the proteins in your skin and cause it to become inflamed. The result is those red, itchy patches of skin.
What’s My First Step?
You may want to start out with a visit to The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic, just to make sure it’s not another more serious skin condition or infection. Once athlete’s foot is diagnosed, we can prescribe many home treatments that usually work quite well to get rid of the problem—if you follow the directions carefully.
The first thing to do is keep your skin clean and dry by washing and toweling off your feet morning and night, especially between the toes. We will recommend anti-fungal creams, sprays, or powders to use on the irritated skin that will make your feet less hospitable to fungal growth. The powder can be sprinkled in your shoes as well to kill any fungus residing there. Keep using these topical medications for a week or two after the skin has improved, to make sure the fungus is really eliminated. It can easily come back if you are not vigilant.
Fungi don’t like clean dry places, so the foot hygiene tips above will help prevent this infection, as well as treat it. Remember not walk barefoot in public places. Use flip flops or shower shoes to protect your feet from places where fungi thrive. Change your socks every day—more often if your feet sweat a lot. It’s also a good idea to have two pairs of shoes to switch back and forth, so each pair can dry out completely before you wear them again. Both shoes and socks should be of natural, breathable fibers that don’t hold moisture against your skin. Don’t share your socks or towels with others and wash them in hot water if possible. Also, be especially careful while taking antibiotics. They can be indiscriminate, destroying the good bacteria that help fight off this infection along with the bad.
When Home Remedies Don’t Work
Some cases of athlete’s foot are just stubborn. Call Dr. Howard Schaengold at The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic if your red, flaky skin doesn’t get better. We have prescription medications that are stronger and more effective. Don’t put up with itching, burning feet. For expert foot care in the Sammamish, Bellevue, Issaquah and Redmond areas, call (425) 868-3338 today.