What is athlete’s foot?
Feet that are suffocated inside tight fitting shoes and socks all day can create a perfect environment for the fungal infection known as Athlete's foot. The condition got its name as it usually occurred in athletes who experienced skin inflammation on their foot. It was later realised that fungal infection in the feet can occur both in athletes and non-athletes whose feet tend to be damp or sweaty for long. If you start seeing symptoms of a fungal infection on your feet, a diagnosis will help you to confirm and find out the real cause behind it. Fortunately, in the majority of cases, you can treat athlete's foot at home by using a natural topical antifungal medication and following a good foot hygiene routine.
What are the symptoms of athlete's foot?
The fungal foot infection may appear on the skin between your toes, on the soles or sides of your feet or on your toenails. You may not experience all, but usually one or more of the following symptoms of athlete’s foot:
|Common Symptoms||Rarer Symptoms|
|Red, itchy rash between the toes.||Marked, chalked skin.|
|Skin flaking and scaling.||If left untreated, the rash can be seen on the palms.|
|If left untreated, the rash can be seen on the palms.;||Scaly, eczema-like skin rash.|
It is important to know that any kind of fungal infection including athlete’s foot often has a tendency to spread to the rest of the foot and also other parts of the body. For this reason, you should begin to treat the condition as soon as you notice the above symptoms.
How is it diagnosed?
The symptoms of athlete’s foot are easily recognised and visible simply by looking at it. In some cases, it may be necessary to visit a dermatologist, who can scrape the skin and perform tests to determine whether athlete’s foot fungi are present.
What causes athlete's foot?
Athlete's foot is caused by skin parasites called dermatophytes, which feed on other organisms to survive. Dermatophytes are generally divided into three groups:
Fungi that prefers earth
Fungi that prefers animals
Fungi that prefers people
Anthropophile fungi cause athlete's foot, specifically Microsporum, Epidermophyton, and Trichophyton, which are responsible for 90% of all ringworm and athlete's foot infections. Most of us unknowingly carry these fungi on our bodies that typically reside on the dead skin cells. They are harmless and go unnoticed. However, these fungi flourish in warm, moist environments when you wear an ill-fitting shoe or fail to properly dry your feet after bathing or swimming. So, when given fertile ground and opportunity to reproduce, they can lead to a growing athlete’s foot flare up.
As you now know, this is a contagious skin infection and can spread easily to another person by mere skin contact with the infected area and sharing or touching the belongings of an infected person. In case of athlete’s or fitness enthusiasts, one can contract the infection in the shower rooms or the steam and sauna facilities too. Athlete's foot can also lead to nail fungus. Here's how you can keep fungal nail infections at bay.
How to prevent athlete’s foot from spreading?
Since athlete’s foot is highly contagious and very common, it’s always wise to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of picking up the infection with the following tips:
- Athlete’s foot-causing fungi are most at home in warm, humid environments, so one preventive measure you can take is to ensure your shoes fit properly and that your feet have plenty of room to breathe.
- Wash your feet every day and remember to let them dry properly before putting your shoes and socks on. You should use a separate towel to dry your feet, so the infection is not transmitted. Do not share towels or other similar personal items.
- Wear socks made of cotton or wool, and change them at least twice a day. Don’t wear damp socks.
- Avoid wearing shoes made of synthetic materials. Leather shoes and sandals are best for your feet.
- Use antifungal powder on the inside of your shoes, and talcum powder on your feet to absorb moisture.
- Use a natural herbal remedy to manage athlete’s foot.
How to get rid of athlete's foot?
If you have detected athlete's foot symptoms, don’t worry! In the initial stages, with proper care, you may expect the symptoms to disappear naturally over time. But because it is highly contagious, it is important to use medical or natural solutions to deal with the infection as quickly as possible.
If your athlete's foot is mild, your doctor may suggest using antifungal creams, sprays, and creams that are available both with and without prescription. In general, these work well, but we always recommend a natural approach to treatment, since you can get the same effect with natural medicines that are more gentle and free of chemicals and side effects. Natural antifungal treatments work by stopping the growth of the fungus causing your athlete's foot with natural healing properties of their herbal ingredients. They can be generally used in the following way:
- Treatment should be applied directly to the affected skin and surrounding area.
- Wash and dry the affected skin before applying the treatment, and clean your hands afterward.
- Continue treatment after the rash has cleared to make sure all the fungus has gone.
The Final Word
Along with using natural solutions, it's also important to practice good foot hygiene during treatment to speed up recovery and prevent a fungal infection from returning. Remember, with any treatment you choose if symptoms still persist after 2-3 weeks of use or if it's causing significant pain or discomfort, contact a doctor to obtain a prescription for a stronger antifungal aid. Once you have successfully removed the fungus causing athlete’s foot, keep your feet clean and as dry as possible to avoid its occurrence in future.