Have you recently noticed an itchy or burning rash developing on the bottom of your foot or around your toes? Watch out: you may have contracted a skin infection commonly known as athlete’s foot! Though generally mild in severity, athlete’s foot is incredibly common, particularly as a condition related to sporting activities, and has the potential to worsen or create complications if not addressed. How did this disease get its name? Why is it such a common ailment? How is it contracted, diagnosed, and treated?
What exactly is Athlete’s Foot?
Known throughout the medical community by the name tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a pathological infection caused by the accumulation of fungi. It is known by its street name due to its prevalence among athletes; fungi that can cause this disease survive and thrive in warm, damp environments, such as communal showers, locker rooms, swimming pools, and other similar locations. Areas that are prone to such environmental conditions and frequently experience heavy foot traffic can become breeding grounds for the pathogen which, once established, can be difficult to resolve. People who periodically walk barefoot along wet, populated floors, do not keep the skin of their feet dry and healthy, and who share socks and towels with infected persons are at high risk of contracting this common affliction.
Identification and Treatment
Athlete’s foot can be identified on the feet as a scaly, rash-like irritation. Some of the side-effects of this affliction are cracked skin, swelling, roughness and blistering. It may be difficult to differentiate between athlete’s foot and another type of dermatitis (milder, more common skin irritation). However, if the condition persists and/or worsens in a few days, a visit to the dermatologist is likely the best course of action.
Depending on the severity or likelihood of athlete’s foot being the cause of the skin irritation, a professional diagnosis could be skipped. Treatments for athlete’s foot are generally accessible either over the counter from a local pharmacy or by doctor’s prescription. These treatments typically consist of antifungal topical creams or oral tablets. Though minor cases of athlete’s foot tend to resolve without external treatment, moderate-to-severe developments may require medical attention. Complications can lead to more serious developments in the disease, so it should not be ignored.
The best way to prevent athlete’s foot from resurfacing is by keeping vulnerable body locations free of dampness. Appropriate exercise footwear is generally enough to prevent athlete’s foot from becoming a serious recurrence. Not everyone is equally vulnerable to contracting this disease, but it has the potential to throw a wrench into any athlete’s exercise regiment!