Are you dealing with an itchy, scaly foot rash that’s particularly persistent or reoccurs despite home treatment? Athlete’s foot may be to blame. Also known as tinea pedis, this highly-contagious fungal skin infection is a common podiatric complaint that can make every step itchy and uncomfortable. Fortunately, you don’t have to let a severe case of athlete’s foot leave you sitting on the sideline. Prompt professional podiatric care can get you back in the game and back to doing the things you love.
Here’s what you need to know about tinea pedis, including how Shenandoah Podiatry’s Roanoke, Virginia foot and ankle specialists can help you put this painful and unsightly skin infection behind you, prevent it from coming back again and again, and stop it from spreading to other parts of the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Tinea Pedis
Athlete’s foot can affect just one foot or both feet. Oftentimes, the first sign of this condition is dry-looking skin, followed by itching, burning, and stinging. These symptoms usually start between the toes but can spread to other parts of the foot as the infection spreads. Other common signs and symptoms include:
- Scaly, peeling, or cracked skin, especially between the toes, and on the bottoms, and sides of the foot
- Inflamed, swollen, or discolored skin, which may appear reddish, grayish, or purplish
- Blisters, which can crack or break open, exposing small, but painful areas of moist, raw skin
Athlete’s Foot Causes and Risk Factors
Tinea pedis infections are caused by dermatophytes—keratin-munching fungi that thrive in warm, moist environments. The condition is common among athletes (and others) whose feet sweat while wearing tight-fitting shoes for prolonged periods. Additionally, public or communal swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms provide an ideal breeding ground for this type of fungi. As a result, people who go barefoot while frequenting these and other similar facilities face an increased risk of athlete’s foot infections. If you’ve ever had ringworm or jock itch make you miserable, it may not surprise you to learn that they—and tinea pedis—are caused by the same family of microorganisms. Athlete’s foot is also extremely contagious, and spreads through contact with contaminated skin, towels, clothing, floors, and other surfaces.
When to See a Podiatrist
Mild cases of athlete’s foot sometimes respond well to home care. However, if the rash on your foot (or feet) hasn’t improved after a week or so of using an over-the-counter antifungal cream, or clears up then recurs, it’s time to seek professional treatment. If you have diabetes or another health condition that can affect the lower extremities, see a podiatrist as soon as you notice signs or symptoms of tinea pedis.
How a Podiatrist Can Help Stop an Athlete’s Foot Infection in Its Tracks
When athlete’s foot doesn’t respond to over-the-counter products, prompt professional care is vital to prevent the infection from spreading to your toenails or worse—your hands, fingernails, or groin area. Fortunately, after a thorough examination, a podiatrist can prescribe an oral antifungal medication or a stronger topical cream, ointment, power, or spray based on your specific needs. Following your podiatrist’s treatment plan as prescribed and implementing lifestyle changes like those below can stop a tinea pedis infection and help prevent its return.
- Wash feet daily with mild soap and warm water, then dry them with a soft, clean towel, taking special care to thoroughly dry between the toes
- A single pair of feet can produce up to one cup of sweat each day; use talcum powder to reduce perspiration and help keep feet dry
- Wear synthetic socks that wick moisture away from your skin and change them frequently if they become excessively sweaty
- Opt for lightweight shoes that allow your feet to breathe—and rotate between multiple pairs
- Avoid walking barefoot around the swimming pool or in public showers or locker rooms; wear shower shoes or flip-flops to reduce the risk of athlete’s foot
Schedule an Appointment
Ready to find out how Shenandoah Podiatry’s foot and ankle specialists can help you put an itchy, scaly athlete’s foot infection behind you? Complete the online contact form or call us at 540-904-1458 to schedule an appointment.