Athlete's Foot
What It Is

Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a very common fungal skin infection of the foot. It often first appears between the toes. It can be a one-time occurrence or it can be chronic. The fungus, known as Trichophyton, thrives under warm, damp conditions so people whose feet sweat a great deal are more susceptible. It is easily transmitted in showers and swimming pool walkways. Those people with immunosuppressive conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, are also more susceptible to athlete’s foot. On other parts of the body this infection is often called ringworm.

Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
  • Itchy feet
  • White soft scaling on feet, usually in between toes often with raw skin
  • Small blisters may be present
  • Bad foot odor
  • Rare involvement of hands simultaneously (called an Id reaction when no actual fungus is noted on hand rash)
Treatment

Diagnosis is via symptoms or examining skin scrapings under a microscope. A mixed infection with bacteria in addition to fungus may be suspected in cases that do not respond to typical therapy. A skin culture may be useful in this case.

Try a non–prescription antifungal powder or cream available in drugstores; our favorite over–the–counter topical antifungal medications are:
  • Lamisil AT (terbinafine)
  • Lotrimin Ultra (butenafine)
  • Prescription antifungal creams, gels and solutions are also available.
  • Sometimes oral antifungals (pills) are prescribed.
  • Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for a possible bacterial infection.
  • Keep feet as dry as possible! Change socks twice a day if necessary and wear those made of natural fibers, such as cotton. Go barefoot when you have a chance or wear sandals. Dry thoroughly in between toes after swimming or bathing.
  • A special powder to absorb moisture on feet is also available in drugstores. Zeasorb works well.
  • Spray your shower at home with a 10% bleach solution after bathing. This may help decrease the chance that other family members will be infected.
  • Wear sandals or flip–flops in public showers and around pools.
  • Keep in mind that it may take up to a month or more to get rid of your athlete’s foot. Be diligent in using the antifungal medication. Unfortunately, recurrence of athlete’s foot is common. Luckily, the condition does not cause serious problems for the majority of people who have it.
  • Call our office if your athlete’s foot spreads or worsens despite treatment.

This information does not replace the advice of a physician nor does it imply a physican – patient relationship between the reader and Dr. Gross.