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Athlete’s Foot

What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection to the skin of the feet. It is also called Tinea Pedis. Anyone can get Athlete’s foot but the name is associated with sweaty feet from sports. The skin infection is often present on the bottom of the foot or in between the toes. It can occur on the top of the foot, but this is a less frequent presentation.

Symptoms:

  • Itching and burning to the skin on the bottom of the foot and/or between the toes.
  • Skin can be dry and flaking with redness due to scratching.
  • The skin between the toes, referred to as the web spaces, can be white and moist or macerated.
  • There is often a “moccasin appearance” due to the infection covering the sides and bottom of the foot.
  • Very rarely is there any associated drainage from the affected area.

Causes:

  • There are many ways in which the skin can become infected.
  • Fungus and bacteria are present in the environment and especially shoes. A moist environment is a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.
  • Often athlete’s foot is the result of going barefoot in a public area where the fungus is present, such as a locker room, shower or pool deck.

Diagnosis:

  • Clinical presentation is very helpful in diagnosing Tinea Pedis.
  • There are times when a simple skin biopsy is performed to confirm a diagnosis of a fungal infection.
  • A woods lamp or black light may be used to evaluate the infection between the toes to determine if there is an additional bacterial infection. The white or macerated skin can appear red or green with the use of the woods lamp, with the color indicating the type of bacterial infection.

Treatments:

  • A fungal infection of the skin can be treated with topical antifungal creams and oral medications. Some oral antifungal medications may require a blood test to evaluate liver health prior to starting treatments.
  • A bacterial infection of the skin or interspaces can be treated with a topical antibiotic ointments or oral antibiotics.
  • For a mixed bacterial and fungal infection a combination of both topical and oral medications can be used.
  • In addition to medication, good foot hygiene and antibacterial sprays are recommend for shoe gear to help reduce the spread of the infection.