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What is Athlete’s Foot?

Among the different types of fungal skin infections, Athlete’s Foot is the most common. It appears on the skin of the feet as a rash. This type of fungus thrives in an environment that is warm and moist like between the toes for example. With Athlete’s Foot, the causative fungus may grow on the skin or it may invade and begin to grow in the skin’s top layer.

The fungus is very easily spread by simply touching the infected feet of someone suffering with it or going barefoot on surfaces that are contaminated such as the floors of locker rooms or public showers and the surfaces surrounding swimming pools. Once contamination has taken place, it will begin to grow in the shoes of its host. This happens rather quickly if the person’s shoes are not well ventilated and the air does not move adequately around the feet. Even if a person touches the fungi and becomes contaminated, they may still not become infected but can spread the infection to others.

There are three different types of Athlete’s Foot and each type will have different symptoms. All three carry a few common symptoms such as burning and itching between the toes and cracking and peeling of the skin. The types and individual symptoms are as follows:

• Vesicular infection starts with the appearance of blisters under the skin that are large in size and filled with fluid. These most generally show up on the soles of the feet, however, the blisters may be seen on any part of the foot. This type of infection can also become bacterial.

• Moccasin-type infection may cause some soreness of the foot at first then the heel or sole may thicken and possibly crack. The nails may get thick and infected then begin to crumble and eventually may fall out. The toenail infection or toenail fungus will require a different type of treatment.

• Toe web infection mostly affects the fourth and fifth toes as scaling, cracking, and peeling of the skin occurs. Often the infection is accompanied by bacteria as well and this causes further break down of the skin. If an individual suffers from any of these symptoms, they should seek the advice of their physician or a podiatrist.

In most cases the doctor can diagnose Athlete’s foot just by examining the foot. If the foot begins to look unusual or if there is a failure of treatment, a sample of the skin or nail may be taken to test for fungi.

Prevention Methods

Even though the symptoms of Athlete’s foot may subside soon after an individual has begun treatment it is vital that all the prescribed medication be finished. This will help to reduce the possibility of the infection returning. There are other things that a person can do to try to prevent infection. Some of these suggestions are as follows:

• Make sure to keep the feet dry and clean.
• Always be sure to dry between the toes.
• Wear shoes that allow the foot to breathe.
• Socks should be worn without shoes when indoors.
• The use of socks made of cotton will help with the absorption of sweat. If feet sweat a lot then the socks should be changed at least twice per day.
• Use an antifungal powder or talcum powder on the feet.
• If the feet sweat a great deal then let shoes dry for about a twenty four hour period before wearing again.
• Use sandals when using a public shower or swimming pool.

Keep in mind that good foot care is often the key to preventing Athlete’s foot and other foot infection. As with any condition, before starting or stopping a treatment an individual should always consult their physician.
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