Athlete's Foot: Facts and Treatment
This is the second most common skin disease in America. Even if you've never had it before, you are probably aware that it causes intense itching of the feet, due to the daily Lamisil commercials on television. Believe it or not, they're constantly shown in the UK and other parts of Europe, too. Lamisil's makers must be rolling in dough.
The important thing is to treat it as soon as you start to feel the first burning sensation, cos the more it spreads the longer it will take to get rid of it. I have had it once, and believe me when I tell you that I never, ever, want to have it again!
So what causes this itchy feet stuff?
Tinea pedis is usually caused by one of two fungi: Trichophyton rubrum or T. mentagrophytes.
How do I get it?
You can get it by walking barefoot in the park (it lives in the soil), coming into direct contact with an infected person or animal, or by coming into contact with a contaminated inanimate object. By far, the most common group of people who contract this are athletes - hence the layman's term. These dermatophytes like dark, moist places. The gym shower stall is beach front property as far as this fungus is concerned. Keep that in mind the next time you tiptoe through the tiles - be smart and wear soccer slides or some other kind of flip flop. Your feet will thank you.
What does it look like?
Depending on the severity, you might not see anything. Or, you might see white, flakey skin between your toes. You might also see patches of scaly skin. You might see discoloration of your toenails. Whatever the case, one thing is almost certain - your tootsies will drive you mad with their itching. If it goes untreated for too long, you can wind up with splitting skin and blisters - this will not be a party for you. It will hurt quite a bit. Imagine having this on your toes and then having to walk around on your feet all day in uncomfortable shoes. Ouch, y'all - don't let it get that far.
How can I be sure I have it?
Your doctor can tell you. He'll perform a few skin tests and let you know what's up. Most people, however, tend to just pop into the drugstore and pick up some Lamisil. If the problem starts to improve, you know you've guessed correctly. I strongly recommend this, because it's not uncommon for this pest to hop from foot to crotch. Yes, that means you can start out with Athlete's Foot and go straight to Jock Itch. I don't think you want to be dealing with both of those at the same time!
How do I get rid of it?
Lamisil is making the big bucks for a reason. Pick up a supply and start using it immediately. And KEEP using it for as long as the package or your doctor directs you to do so. You should not be using it less than 10 days - even if your symptoms are gone. They can come back - and they can come back in resistant form, so don't go there.
How can I prevent it?
Don't share towels.
Don't jump into bed with someone who keeps scratching their tootsies.
Don't wear their shoes or socks, either.
Wear flip-flops in the locker room and public showers.
Keep your feet clean and dry.
Keep your shoes clean and dry.
This tends to affect men more often than women, which is, I suppose the reason you always see guys in the commercials. But women can get it, too. I've had it once, and it was terrible. I'd left a pair of sneakers outside in the rain by accident and then wore them before they were completely dry. Big, big mistake. I will be forever careful from now on - you be, too!
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