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Athlete's foot

You don’t have to be an athlete to suffer from athlete’s foot as it can affect anyone!

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal foot infection that is primarily caused by a type of fungi known as dermatophytes.1 This foot fungus thrives in warm and moist environments, such as changing rooms and showers, shoes and socks or sweaty feet.2 Thus, they can feel right at home between your toes, but can also affect the soles and sides of your feet.

Athlete’s foot symptoms

You might be suffering from athlete’s foot if you experience:

  • An itchy, burning sensation in your toes and feet
  • Scaly, very dry, cracked or peeling skin
  • Splitting, softening or whitening skin between toes
  • Cracking skin between the toes, on the soles, or on your heels
  • Smelly feet 3,4

You can also experience more severe symptoms, such as:

  • Vesicles on the skin
  • Inflammation of cracked skin 5
  • Foul odour
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Understanding athlete's foot

The most important thing you need to know about athlete’s foot is that it’s contagious. You can easily catch the infection through skin-to-skin contact or through direct physical contact with contaminated surfaces.6 If left untreated, it is much more likely to return, and the fungus can spread to other areas of your body 7, or to your loved ones. Athlete's foot can also lead to bad foot odour.

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Athlete's foot treatment

An effective antifungal medication is the best treatment for athlete's foot. Purchase products that treat this foot infection over the counter at your local pharmacy, or order them online.8

Topical treatments are easy to apply and target the main types of fungi that cause athlete's foot. You can also choose to use a concomitantly mild corticosteroid that treats athlete's foot (e.g. hydrocortisone).9

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Preventing athlete's foot

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When drying your feet, pay special attention to the area between your toes.10

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Wear clean socks every day. Change them after playing sports, and more frequently on hot days.11

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Keep your toenails trimmed and clean to prevent spreading the fungal infection.

Facts about athlete's foot

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You may be more at risk of catching athlete’s foot when walking barefoot in public showers, gyms and changing rooms, or if you are within range of direct physical contact with an infected person.12

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It’s a common problem: over 70% of the population will experience athlete’s foot during their lifetime.

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When left untreated, athlete's foot can spread to other parts of your body.13 This often occurs through scratching and can cause other fungal infections like jock itch.14

REFERENCES:

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  2. Introduction and Athletics-specific risk factors in: Field, L.A. & Adams B.B., Tinea pedis in athletes, in: International Journal of Dermatology 2008, 47, p.485
  3. Check if you have athlete's foot, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  4. Tinea Pedis, in: Hainer, B.L., Dermatophyte Infections, in: American Family Physician 2003, vol. 67, Number 1
  5. Ibid
  6. How you get athlete’s foot, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  7. Check if you have athlete's foot, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  8.  A pharmacist can help with athlete's foot, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  9.  What to do, in: Tinea Pedis, Tinea Cruris,Tinea Corporis , in: Buttaravoli, P., Minor Emergencies, 2012, Elsevier Saunders, p. 733
  10.  How you can help treat and prevent athlete's foot yourself, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  11. Ibid
  12.  How you get athlete's foot, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  13.  Check if you have athlete's foot, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/
  14.  How you can help treat and prevent athlete's foot yourself, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/