Athletes Foot: What It Is and How To Treat It

Athletes foot is a fungal infection, known as Tinea Pedis, that grows in damp sweaty environments. This is a common condition that occurs in many runners that can be very irritating to deal with. The infection commonly causes itching, stinging, and burning between toes, as well as peeling, cracking and blistering skin on the feet. This fungal infection is common in runners as well as many other athletes (hence it's name) because of the environment it grows in.

The fungus that causes athletes foot can be found on damp contaminated surfaces such as in locker rooms, bathrooms, and pool areas. It is also contagious, so if a family member has the infection, it can remain on surfaces to infect others. Athletes foot grows rapidly between toes since it is a moist and warm area. Runners who pick up athletes foot will then put on socks and shoes and run causing an even more ideal environment for the fungus to grow in since your feet become even more warm and sweaty. Add to that the hot and humid weather in Houston, TX and you have the ideal circumstances for the fungus to thrive.

There are a couple of things you can do to prevent getting athletes foot. Always wear flip-flops or shower shoes when bathing in public facilities and in bathrooms that you share with someone who has athletes foot. Whenever you get out of the shower or pool make sure you dry between each toe to eliminate excess moisture that Athletes foot can thrive in. Do not wear all-cotton socks because they cause your feet to be damp when they sweat. Buy socks made of a synthetic fiber that are thoroughly able to wick away any excess fluid, such as CoolMax and DryMax.

If you get Athletes foot there are over-the-counter antifungal products, such as Lamisil cream, to treat the infection. To treat the infection, begin by washing your foot, making sure to wash and dry the areas between the toes. Apply a thin layer of an anti-fungal medication to the affected area as directed on the label. Most over-the-counter anti-fungal medication can take up to two weeks to heal completely. If you are not sure which medication to use, or if the over-the-counter medication is not working, contact your podiatrist.

You should also be sure to treat your shoes. Having fungus in your shoes will cause you to reinfect yourself after the Athletes foot has cleared up. Spraying your shoes with a disinfectant spray, such as Mycomist, will allow the fungus to be controlled and will help to prevent the infection for reoccurring.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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