Athlete's Foot and Nail Fungus
Athlete's Foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a skin disease caused by a fungus that usually occurs between the toes. The fungus attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment that encourages fungus growth. Warm, damp areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms, are also breeding grounds for fungi.
Symptoms of Athlete's Foot include drying skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blisters on and between the toes. Athlete's Foot can spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails as well as other parts of the body, which is why timely treatment is so important.
You can prevent Athlete's Foot by:
- Not walking barefoot, particularly in public pools and locker rooms.
- Reducing foot perspiration by using talcum powder.
- Wearing light and airy shoes.
- Wearing socks that keep your feet dry, and changing them frequently if you perspire heavily.
While fungicidal and fungistatic chemicals are usually used to treat Athlete's Foot problems, they often fail to contact the fungi in the lower layers of the skin. For persistent Athlete's Foot, a prescription topical or oral antifungal drug may be needed. Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications.
Since fungal nails are usually more resistant and more difficult to treat than Athlete's foot, topical or oral antifungal medications may be prescribed. Permanent nail removal is another possible form of treatment for fungal nails.
After a fungal nail infection has cleared up, you can take steps to prevent the infection from coming back.
Keeping the fungus under control will help prevent a fungal infection of the skin from reinfecting the nail. Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet, and apply a non-prescription anti-fungal cream to the entire foot from the ankle down. Use the cream every night, then gradually apply it less often. Keep your feet dry. Dry feet are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet after you take a shower or bath.
- Don't share nail clippers or nail files with others.
- Don't share shoes or socks with others.
- Try not to injure your nail, such as by cutting it too short (trauma to the nail may lead to infections).
- Wear dry cotton socks, and change them two or three times a day if necessary.
- Wear dry shoes that allow air to circulate around your feet (tight, enclosed, moist shoes contribute to fungal toenail infections).
- Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when you are at a public pool or shower.
Follow basic foot care guidelines and you more than likely can head off most common foot fungus problems.