symptoms of athlete's foot


Athlete‚Äôs foot, or ‚Äėtinea pedi‚Äô, is a fungal infection of the skin of the feet. It is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. When these fungi multiply on the foot, they cause a fungal infection. Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot are very common, with about 15% of the general population of the UK suffering from it. That‚Äôs a lot of pairs of feet suffering from fungus!

Tackling athlete’s foot is important, as it does not usually go away on its own. The fungus can spread to other parts of the foot, or cause a nail infection. It can also be spread to other parts of the body through itching. We can keep our feet happy by tackling athlete’s foot as it occurs and by taking precautions to prevent it from happening in the first place.


Understanding Athlete’s Foot


Athlete’s foot is caused by a group of fungi called dermophytes. These need keratin for growth, and so can cause infections on skin, hair and nails. For this reason, they do not cause infections in surfaces with mucous.

Dermophytes thrive in a warm, moist environment which can encourage an overgrowth of the fungus. This makes areas such as between the toes a particular hotspot. The environment is especially favourable if you often wear enclosed shoes, have damp shoes or socks, or regularly sweat. Much like thrush (caused by a different fungus), the growth of dermophytes causes infection and leads to the unpleasant symptoms that we associate with athlete’s foot.

Dermophytes can be spread via skin-to-skin contact with another person or by indirect contact through towels, shoes or spaces such as swimming pools. This makes walking barefoot in communal areas such as saunas or baths a risk factor, particularly as they are warm and moist. Sharing a space with someone with athlete’s foot is also a risk factor, as it is highly contagious and can spread through mats, rugs, bed linen, clothes or shoes. Tackling athlete’s foot is difficult because the fungal spores are able to survive for very long periods of time on surfaces before they come to contact with human skin


symptoms of athlete's foot


What are the Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?


If you have athlete’s foot, you may experience:


· Itchiness

· White, scaly, peeling or cracked skin between the toes

· Sore, flaky patches

· Redness

· Burning or stinging

· Blisters


These symptoms can be uncomfortable and even painful, so tackling athlete’s foot is essential to treating these and getting your feet back to their prime.


How Can I Prevent the Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?


Tackling the symptoms of athlete’s foot by taking preventative measures ensures that it does not have a chance to develop.


This can be done by:


¬∑ Keeping your feet clean and dry ‚Äď Fungus loves moisture, pay attention to the areas between your toes to keep them dry and lessen the likelihood of fungus growing.

¬∑ Let your feet breathe ‚Äď Keeping your toes enclosed in tight footwear makes your feet prone to fungal infections. It creates a warm, moist atmosphere for fungus to thrive. Opting for open-toed shoes such as sandals can help with airing out your feet and tackling athlete‚Äôs foot.

¬∑ Change your socks ‚Äď These should be changed daily, or if you are an above-average sweater (which can happen during menopause, for example), then more often. Switch to cotton socks which keep your feet drier for longer.

¬∑ Avoid walking barefoot in shared public spaces ‚Äď In particular, moist environments such as changing rooms, swimming pools and saunas make perfect conditions for fungus to spread from one foot to another. Wearing flipflops in these settings can help protect you from athlete‚Äôs foot.

¬∑ Antifungal foot powder or spray ‚Äď These can be ordered online or purchased at your local pharmacy, applying an antifungal medication in advance can help curb fungus before it grows.


symptoms of athlete's foot


Treating Athlete’s Foot


Athlete’s foot can be treated by:


· Topical medication such as creams, powders, gels and sprays. These can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy or ordered online. Terbinafine is an example of an antifungal that is effective against dermatophytes, however other topical agents have also been found to be useful.

· If medication from the pharmacy does not work to tackle the symptoms of athlete’s foot, and you still experience symptoms after two weeks, your GP can prescribe you an alternative medication.


Seeking Professional Help


If you think you may have symptoms of athlete’s foot, it is important to seek help from a healthcare professional or pharmacist who can diagnose and treat you correctly. The symptoms of athlete’s foot can look similar to other skin conditions, so the first step to tackling athlete’s foot is proper diagnosis. As mentioned earlier, the symptoms athlete’s foot are highly contagious! Taking steps to actively prevent and treat it is the key to tackling athlete’s foot.

If you have tried treatments from the pharmacy already, and they are still not working, seek medical advice from your GP. They can examine your symptoms and may take a skin scraping. The GP can prescribe you alternative medication for treating the symptoms of athlete’s foot.


Additionally, if you have or are experiencing symptoms of athlete’s foot and one of these conditions, you should visit your GP:


· Diabetes

· A weakened immune system

· Signs of infection (redness, swelling, pus, itching, warmth)

· Your symptoms have spread elsewhere on your body


Tackling the symptoms of athlete‚Äôs foot may be no small feat (if you‚Äôll pardon the pun), but it is possible with the right prevention and treatment methods. It is caused by a class of fungi called ‚Äėdermophytes‚Äô which in the right environment can grow and cause havoc for your skin, manifesting in symptoms of itchiness, redness, cracked skin, flakiness, burning and even blisters. This is undeniably uncomfortable, however can be avoided by keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing breathable footwear, avoiding walking bare-foot in moist communal spaces, and by applying an antifungal medicine.

Should you have already contracted it and are showing symptoms of athlete’s foot, it can be tackled by using medicines over the counter at your pharmacy, or in more severe cases, prescribed by your GP.

If you are unsure, it is always best to seek medical advice from a professional. This can be done through e-Surgery’s ‘Ask A Pharmacist‘, where we offer free, professional medical advice.