Athlete’s Foot: Itchy Infections

Fungus is everywhere. Think about an old log in a forest. You’ll frequently see visible fungi popping up as the wood fibers break down. Mold, a cousin of traditional fungus, appears on foods that go bad or in damp corners of homes as they get old. The tiny spores of the organisms are all around is in the environment. When the right type comes into contact with your skin, you can grow a fungus, too—it’s called an athlete’s foot infection.

Developing Fungal Foot Issues

Originally called athlete’s foot because sweaty athletes are prone to the problem, this condition is a fungal infection on the surface of the skin. It’s caused by a microscopic fungus that thrives in warm, dark, damp environments. You contract it through direct contact with a contaminated surface, including an infected person’s feet or footwear, or walking barefoot in a location that may harbor the organism. Pools, saunas, locker rooms, and community showers are particularly high-risk areas.  If your feet are frequently warm, sweaty, and locked way in shoes, they foster the perfect atmosphere for an infection.

What to Expect

Once the infection sets in, it begins to damage your skin. Your foot grows itchy and dry. The surface may peel or flake and feel like it’s burning. As the skin dries out, it may crack as well. Occasionally the skin may blister, too. This can make you vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections—which is particularly dangerous if you have diabetes. You can develop this anywhere on your feet, including the soles, tops, and sides. In between your toes is the most common location. As the condition progresses, it can spread to other parts of your feet, your nails, and even other people around you. The problem doesn’t heal on its own, either. You need invested care to eliminate the infection and restore your skin to health and comfort.

Eliminating the Little Fungus

Conservative methods are the best way to deal with a fungal skin infection. Also, the sooner you deal with athlete’s foot, the easier it is to manage. As it becomes chronic and spreads, it becomes harder to treat. Dr. Brandon S. Percival, Dr. Julie A. Percival, and Dr. William Harris will carefully examine your infected skin and use tests to rule out other look-alike conditions. Then we can help you begin the appropriate treatment.

You’ll need to apply anti-fungal topical medication to your feet regularly to kill the microorganisms infecting your skin. This can be creams, ointments, sprays, or powders. Stubborn infections may need an oral medication as well to help. You’ll also need to treat your footwear. The infection can transfer to your socks and shoes, where it festers in the fabric and re-infects your skin. Wash your feet daily and pat them completely dry before applying the medication. Wear socks that wick moisture away from your feet to help reduce the dampness close to your skin. Try to avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row so each pair can dry completely before you wear it again.

Athlete’s foot is an uncomfortable infection that compromises your foot health. You don’t have to let it damage your skin and risk additional infections, however. You can take care of the issue promptly and eliminate the itch. Let Carolina Podiatry Group in the Lancaster, Rock Hill, or Indian Land, South Carolina areas help you. Make an appointment with us today through our website or by calling (803) 285-1411 for Lancaster, or (803) 548-FEET for the Indian Land office.