- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Athlete's foot- symptoms, diagnosis and prevention
Tinea pedis is the medical term for athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection affecting mostly men and this is a harmless foot infection caused by fungi that live in warm, moist and dark environments. The disease is cause by the ringworm fungus Trichophyton. The disease appears as small, water-filled blisters which forms into inflamed patches of burning and itching skin and skin may peel off with soft whitened patches. It lives in dead skin mostly between toes and calloused areas of the sole. People with low immunity are most likely to get infected and possibly to get infected repeatedly. Unhygienic, sweat and choice of footwear will contribute to the infection of the fungus. Shoes and socks block air circulation which causes humidity.
A fungal infection of the skin is called dematophytosis. If the skin is injured by the fungus, bacteria can also affect the skin resulting inflammation of the skin and the inflammation is called cellulitis. Cellulitis occurs especially in aged individuals with diabetes, chronic leg swelling or who have had veins removed and patients with weak immune systems.
Athlete’s foot disease is a contagious disease which transmits through showers and wet floors visited by other infected people. The disease is most common in people who tend to have wet feet. It can be spread through sharing things such as shoe, towels and wash cloths. The fungus may spread to other parts of the body such as underarms and groin.
The symptoms of Athlete’s foot are reddening, cracking and peeling of skin, bleeding, itching, burning sensation, stinging sensation, development of small blisters that may often lead to cracking of the skin causing pain, and swelling. The skin may thicken in severe cases like a callus and begin to scale. When the disease affected on the toenail, the symptoms are change in color of the nail such as yellow or brown, thicker nails, bad odor, debris collects beneath the nail, and white marks on the nail.
The disease can be diagnosed through visual inspection of the skin. To rule out the possibilities of having eczema or psoriasis, the diagnosis should include direct microscopy of a potassium hydroxide preparation which is known as the KOH test at the start of treatment. The test is conducted on the skin scrapings from the affected area and the test has an excellent positive value. But occasionally have negative results also especially if treatment with an anti- fungal medication has already begun.
Wash your feet at least once with soap and warm water daily and keep the feet dry. Change the socks regularly and use cotton socks or socks with absorbent material. Wear open sandals and expose the feet to the air for short periods. Take medicines according to a podiatrist.
Athlete’s foot can be prevented by a diet that supports the immune system. The diet should consist of plenty of whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables. To reduce fungal growths eat raw sauerkraut, lactic acid fermented foods, yogurt, and kefir which consist of healthy bacteria and also avoid processed food, fried food, refined grains, sweets and soft drinks. Take vitamin C to reduce stress along with zinc which strengthens the immune system. Essential fatty acids can help pain and inflammation and helps in healing skin disorders like vitamins A, E and B complex. There are some therapeutic foot baths to reduce the infection.
To prevent infection and spreading to other family members spray tub and bathroom floor with disinfectant after each use. To kill the fungus wash clothes in hot water and change towels and bed sheets at least once in a week. Avoid sharing shoes, socks and towels, and wear shower shoes or sandals in public showers and bathrooms. After bathing and showering, wash the feet especially between toes with soap and dry the feet and toes. Avoid sweating of toes and wear cotton socks and foot powder to reduce sweat.