Athlete’s foot Description, Causes and Risk Factors: Dermatophytosis of the feet, especially of the skin between the toes, caused by one of the dermatophytes, usually a species of Trichophyton or Epidermophyton; the disease consists of small vesicles, fissures, scaling, maceration, and eroded areas between the toes and on the plantar surface of the foot; other skin areas may be involved. The Athlete’s foot fungus, Trichophyton, is related to other fungi that cause infections in human skin, hair and nails, examples include jock itch and ringworm. These infections are caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are parasitic; they feed off other organisms to survive. These fungi exist harmlessly on human skin. However, as long as the skin is dry and clean, their reproduction is limited. Under damp and warm conditions they multiply rapidly. Athlete’s foot can be spread through direct and indirect contact: Direct contact – this means skin-to-skin contact, as may occur when an uninfected person touches the infected area of somebody with athlete’s foot.
- Indirect contact – the fungi can infect people via contaminated surfaces, clothing, socks, shoes, bed sheets and towels.
Anyone can develop athlete’s foot, but it is more common in men and teenagers. Children under 12 years of age rarely develop the condition. It is not known why some people develop athlete’s foot more than others. However, people who play a lot of sport are often affected. Sport and exercise can make your feet warmer and more moist than usual, which provides an ideal environment for the fungi to grow. This may be the reason why it is called athlete’s foot. Preventive measures: Keep your feet clean, dry, and cool.
- Wear clean socks.
- Don’t walk barefoot in public areas.
- Wear flip-flops in locker room showers.
- Keep your toenails clean and clipped short.
Symptoms: The skin on the foot, especially between the toes becomes itchy, dry, flaky, red, and scaly.
- The skin may also crack, there may be oozing or crusting blisters, and swelling.
Diagnosis: Athlete’s foot can usually be diagnosed by visual inspection of the skin, but where the diagnosis is in doubt direct microscopy of a potassium hydroxide preparation (known as a KOH test) may help rule out other possible causes, such as eczema or psoriasis.A biopsy of the affected skin (i.e. a sample of the living skin tissue) can be taken for histological examination.Treatment: Athlete’s foot is usually mild and can be easily treated using antifungal medication, which is available from your Pharmacy. You only need to see your GP if the infection doesn’t go away, although pharmacists often prefer children to see a GP to confirm a diagnosis. The GP may prescribe stronger antifungal medication, often in tablet form. With effective treatment, athlete’s foot usually only lasts for a few days or weeks. Antifungal medication kills the fungi that cause the infection. It is available in many forms including: Creams.
There exists a large number of antifungal drugs including: miconazole nitrate, clotrimazole, Pitrex (a synthetic thiocarbamate), terbinafine, butenafine hydrochloride, et cetera. NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.