Foot Fungus: Athlete’s Foot

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot (or tinea pedis) is a fungal disease that is highly contagious. The same fungus can infect you in other parts of the body too as ringworm or jock itch. If you’ve ever been infected by athlete’s foot, you know that the symptoms include an itchy, scaly rash. If it worsens, it can sting and burn as the skin is exposed. Sometimes, instead of a rash, your skin can become dry and scaly across the toes and on the bottom of the feet. 

 Where can I get athlete’s foot and how do I avoid it?

As a fungus, tinea pedis can be found in warm, damp areas like at communal showers in locker rooms. Children can also get it while at community pools or by sharing towels with someone who has the fungal infection. Sweaty feet in non-breathable shoes can make it worse and keep infecting you if it is not properly dried between wears.

Some prevention tips include:

  • Wash your feet each day with soap and warm water and check for signs of infection. Promptly take care of dry skin, cuts, and ingrown toenails, since they infect you most easily through breaks in the skin.

  • Wear flip-flops in community areas where it might be wet or moist.

  • Never share towels, socks, or shoes with those who may be infected (or anyone at all for that matter)

  • Rotate the shoes you wear so that they can fully air out and dry. The fungus can live in the soft parts of your shoes if they don’t properly dry.

How do I treat it?

There are several methods for treating athlete’s foot, depending on your symptoms and needs:

  • Your first treatment may be an over-the-counter anti-fungal ointment, lotion, powder, or spray. These can work as long as the problem is not severe. You should also keep your feet clean and follow the directions on the box.

  • For fungal toenails, our podiatrist can use laser treatment, since it’s in an area that is not easily accessible for antifungal applications.

  • A last resort would be for severe fungal infections. Our podiatrist may have to prescribe you prescription-strength anti-fungal medication, including oral medications, which have undesirable side effects.

Now you know that while it sounds like a disease only for athletes, this fungal disease can infect anyone. For fungal infections that won’t go away, make an appointment at Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group. We can help you by checking your feet to find the best solution to treat your athlete’s foot and reduce risk of their return. One of our board-certified podiatrists, Dr. Douglas H. Richie, Dr. Jeremy L. Cook, Dr. Faye E. Izadi can treat your feet at either of our Seal Beach, CA or Los Alamitos, CA offices in Orange County.