Athlete’s foot is not reserved for athletes. It is a fungus that generally affects the areas of skin between the toes, and on the top and under side of the feet. It presents as scaly, itchy burning skin, sometimes with splits or cracks. People whose feet are constantly damp are more likely to have to deal with athlete’s foot. Despite being unsightly, uncomfortable and itchy, it is not generally considered a serious condition. Untreated it can have some long term ramifications if it affects the toenails or the lower layers of the skin. Complications are more likely if you have diabetes or other circulation issues. If the nails are involved you should be talking to your doctor about treatment choices
Typical athlete’s foot treatments are topical over the counter creams, powders and or sprays. The more common non prescription options include clotrimazole (Canesten, house brands), miconazole (Micatin) and Tinactin. In severe or resistant cases there are prescription alternatives you can talk to your doctor about.
When using a cream or other topical product follow the directions provided and continue to treat until symptoms (rash, scaling etc) are gone and finishing up at about 4 weeks of total treatment. However, if after 2 weeks of treatment there is no improvement, or if you have not cleared the issue in a total of six weeks treatment you should see your doctor.
There are some steps you can take to help keep things under control.
- Do the best you can to keep your feet dry: If you can take an extra pair of socks or another pair of boots for work.
- Wash hands before and after putting cream on or going through regular footcare. The fungus can be transmitted by touch to other areas of the body
- Wash the feet well with soap and water, and make sure to dry them well before putting on the cream and your socks and shoes.
- Wear breathable shoes and socks made of absorbant meterials (cotton, wool) or synthetic blends with acryic or polypropylene. Avoid nylon blends.
- Treat your boots, shoes and other footwear with an antiseptic of some kind, Dettol, Lysol are examples. Ideally, they should be completly dry before putting them on again.
- If you frequent the public pools or spas, have an extra pair of flip flops that are treated (bleached if possible) before and after.
- Avoid putting powders into the boots or shoes. It is not effective and can clump up and actually hold in moisture.
- If you are diabetic or have circulation issues foot care should be a part of your daily routine: inspect the areas between the toes and if possible the undersides of the feet. If you cannot do it yourself there are companies in most areas that will provide regular foot care either in your home or in their own offices.
- If you have chronically sweaty feet you can apply antiperspirants or powders to your feet to help keep them dry.
- If you have athlete’s foot clean your shower or tub regularly and try to avoid going barefoot as much as possible to avoid spreading the fungus.