It is called athlete’s foot, an infection that affects the feet. This problem usually affects the interdigital folds on the ground and the edges thereof.

Despite its name, it does not only affect athletes and is also known as ringworm of the foot (tinea pedis).

This infection is prevalent throughout the world, although people living in hot and humid climates, favoring the colonization of fungi are more at risk of contracting it.

Cases can be found in both men and women of any age, although a higher proportion of infections occur in young men.

It is transmitted directly from person to person and also through contaminated with the fungus, as the surfaces of the pool or shower objects.

Causes

In 98% of cases athlete’s foot is caused by dermatophyte fungi. This type of infection where the infectious agent is a fungus called mycosis. In the other cases, it is due to the action of yeast and some bacteria or yeast.

These fungi infect keratinized tissues found and thrive in warm, moist environments. Thus, wearing closed shoes, especially if the patient is feet sweat a lot, favors the necessary moisture and heat conditions for fungi to reproduce.

It can be a contagious infection, the risk of transmission increases when using public swimming pools and gyms without taking proper precautions.

Symptoms

Some patients with athlete’s foot may remain asymptomatic, and present only lousy odor because of the infection, while in others display the typical signs that of athlete’s foot.

They can be classified thus different forms of athlete’s foot, with their respective symptoms:

  • Chronic form: foot redness and itching constant are observed, especially at night. It is the most common form.
  • Hyperkeratosis: in this state cracks, blisters and scales usually appear in the infected area, besides hyperkeratosis, which is that the outer layer of the skin thickens.
  • Bladder halfway: the skin has many blisters should not be exploited.
  • Colitis way: once you get to this state is a high probability that athlete’s foot gets associated with a secondary bacterial infection, which may need to be treated with antibiotics exists. Interdigital ulcers are observed, especially in patients with weakened immune systems and diabetics.

In those patients who have poor circulation, an infection can become complicated, to the point of having to amputate the foot. These complications can happen to diabetic patients, for example.

Athlete’s foot can also reach the hands or nails, making these present a poor appearance: colorless, thickened and even demolished.

Diagnosis

It is essential to correctly diagnose the infection because the same symptoms could correspond to another condition, and inadequate determination involves to follow a wrong treatment, which not only would not solve the problem but may even worsen.

To define the diagnosis, it must perform a series of tests:

  • Medical history.
  • Visual the examination of the affected area.
  • Direct examination of a sample collected by scraping the infected area for the presence/absence of hyphae (they are a part of the fungus).
  • Microbiological culture to define the infectious agent.

It is possible to be diagnosed with mycosis a similar infection like dawn psoriasis, as it also affects the skin, especially the interdigital foot, but in this case, the cause is autoimmune in origin.

Treatment

The first time this infection occurs is commonly used antifungal topically, either in powder or cream.

Typically, these medications contain clotrimazole, miconazole or tolnaftate, and treatment should continue one or two weeks after the disappearance of the infection, just to prevent recurrence.

In 65% of cases, the infection does not go away completely, reappearing in less than two years. People use antifungals to deal with these relapses, but in these cases orally.

Sometimes, besides to the fungal infection, secondary infection by bacteria occurs, and to treat antibiotics should be given. They can be applied with selenium sulfate soaps to clean the feet, although medical experts do not recommend it if your feet have wounds.

It is also necessary to pay close attention to personal care not to encourage the proliferation of fungi, as some actions people take might increase the risk of worsening their condition, helping with the extension and prolongation of infection, such as:

  • Use closed footwear, and especially those coated with plastic.
  • Stay with wet feet for long periods of time.
  • The feet sweat abundantly.
  • In cases where the affected foot injury present in the skin or the nail.

It is essential to follow the treatment conscientiously applying the necessary daily dose and prolong the time prescribed by the doctor, although at first glance it is no longer observed infection. Also, usually it used on both feet because although the symptoms are manifested only in one is likely that the other will also be infected.

Usually, athlete’s foot has a favorable prognosis, although you can find a wide range of injuries, from mild to severe. The severity if the damage means that the infection can be short or long, quite elongating treatment in some cases.

Prevention

Must follow a series of measures aimed at preventing contagion, reproduction, and spread of these infectious agents:

  • Be careful when drying your feet and not leave wet or damp, ensuring that the skin between the toes is correctly dried after bathing.
  • Wear flip-flops in public pools, showers at the gym and an open surface.
  • Moving socks even more than once a day, to make sure that the feet are kept dry.
  • Change often shoe to prevent it stays moist and can be a source of infection.
  • Wear shoes made of natural materials such as leather, and allow excellent breathability.
  • Avoid shoes with a plastic coating.

In those cases, the people who are prone to this kind of infection, doctors recommend using antifungal or drying powders for the safety of the foot.

It is important to note that people with an impaired immune system are more susceptible to infection, so it is convenient to use these powders if they are to be frequently exposed to contact with areas where it is more comfortable that fungi are developed, such as public toilets.