Monday, 14 November 2011

What are the Symptoms of Athlete Foot?

Athlete foot or tinea pedis, as it is called in medical terms, is the infection of the foot caused by a fungi ‘dermatophytes’.  This fungi attacks the dead outer layers of the skin of the foot.  The main cause of this disease is from wearing shoes with no ventilation.

This infection of Athlete foot starts when one gets in touch with wet surfaces such as swimming pools, locker or changing rooms or bathrooms where this fungi may be present.  This warm and moist environment is the ideal ground for breeding of this infection.  Wearing poorly ventilated shoes that gives way to perspiration may multiply these fungi.

Symptoms –
The most common symptom of Athlete Foot is scaling and peeling of the toe webs without any pain, odor or itching.  There may also be redness along with inflammation at the sole area of the foot.

The more advanced stage brings about bacterial infection in the form of tissue breakdown which results in soggy skin between the toes.  This may lead to whitening and softening of the skin resulting in it itching and foul smell.  As the condition gets into a more advanced stage, cracks are visible in the toe webs which give way to oozing.  At times, it may develop blisters on toes and hands.  Diabetic patients should take extra care as Athlete Foot may develop some severe infections as their immune systems are weak.

Diagnosis of Athlete Foot –
The diagnosis of athlete foot is done by way of scraping off some layers of the affected skin.  They are studied under the microscope after adding KOH solution which distinguishes the type of fungi present in the skin.

Treatment –
The treatment of Athlete Foot is simple and uncomplicated.  Topical antifungal preparations are used to treat dry and scaly parts of the skin.  For this Clotrimazole or terbinafine (Lamisi) creams are applied.  In severe cases, oral antifungal medication is prescribed.
Home remedies for Athlete foot may include soaking of feet in solution of aluminum subacetate or aluminum chloride water.

Athlete foot requires a treatment of 4 to 6 weeks.  If this infection persists, change of antifungal medicine is required.  These may include griseofulvin or terbinafine, but these are only used at the severe stages of the condition as they may have side effects like headache, nausea and numbness.

Steps for prevention of Athlete Foot :-
·        Apply antifungal foot power or lotion to the foot after drying out the foot skin.  This helps if you are using shoes for the whole day.
·        Change the socks daily and try to use absorbent material socks.
·        Try using perforated shoes or sandals when going out for free circulation of air.
·        Keep your shoes or footwear outside at night to gain air.
·        If the weather is hot and humid, use sandals or ventilated shoes whenever possible.
·        Place cotton balls between toes if they perspire excessively at the time of sleeping.
·        Avoid deodorant soap.

It has also been found that Athlete Foot infection persists for a long time due to which bed sheets and bedcovers often get contaminated.  It is always advised to change and clean these bed sheets on a regular basis as this contamination may spread to other parts of the body.

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