Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection on the skin of the foot. It is characterized by itchy, red, scaly rashes between the toes. It is contagious and spreads through contact to the sides of the foot, to the other foot, to your hands and other people when they are in moist areas such as swimming pools and bathrooms, from sharing shoes of an infected person or having contact with pets carrying the fungi. It is a chronic infection that can recur after treatment. Athlete’s foot is usually contracted because of moist socks and clothing, and locations such as gyms, swimming pools, locker rooms and nail salons.
A common symptom of athlete’s foot is itchy, scaly lesions that can also form blisters and ulcers. Another form presents as dry, peeling skin between the toes. If the infection spreads to your toenails, they can become dry and crumbly.
Treatment of athlete’s foot includes antifungal skin creams, powder or sprays, or oral medicines in extreme cases. The skin creams should be applied to the affected area as instructed by your doctor. You should continue applying the cream daily for 1 – 2 weeks, even after the infection clears from your feet to prevent the infection from recurring. A medicated powder may also be given to help to keep the feet dry. Along with this, it is important to take a few precautionary steps to prevent athlete’s foot from recurring:
- Wash your feet every day with soap and water.
- Keep your feet clean and dry, preferably between your toes.
- Keep your nails short and clean because nails can house the fungi and spread the infection.
- Wear clean socks made of cotton, and change them often in order to keep your feet dry.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas. Wear proper shoes that support good air circulation to your feet.