Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Athletes’ foot

It’s not uncommon to hear about some stubborn wound that usually develops in the space between the toes.

Like with any other wound, it can be very painful and can cause great discomfort when one puts on his shoes. It can be stubborn indeed and can take some time to heal and can always recur if conditions allow it. The good thing about it is that it’s a curable condition. However, if risk factors are not addressed it can always come back.

This condition is called athletes foot ÔÇô a fungal infection. It usually develops in the moist areas of the feet, especially in between the toes. Medics call it tinea pedis.

The infection is usually caused by a bug that is very close to the ones that cause ring worms of the body, genitals and the head skin. It is a contagious disease and thus one can get it from damp places like gym shower floors.

Presentation
The common signs and symptoms include: itching, burning or stinging, development of itchy blisters, peeling skin in between toes, and sometimes excessive dryness on the bottom of the feet.

Why it develops
The bug that causes the infection of the foot survives and grows well in damp and close places like in between the toes. As it grows it attacks the most superficial layer of the skin through its body appendages.

Risk factors
Sweaty feet
Wearing of damp socks and shoes
Tight fitting shoes
Showering in poorly cleaned places like some public showers.
Sharing shoes with someone with a fungal infection.
Weak body defence system like in diabetes mellitus, cancer, etc.

The complications
If left untreated the wound can be complicated by other bugs called bacteria. If this happens the wound may start exuding pus, having offensive odour and the pain may worsen.

Investigations
Your doctor may take some skin scrapings to be viewed under a microscope by a microbiologist at the laboratory. If the fungus is seen, the right treatment is given. The doctor may also want to do a general screen for all chronic illnesses that may predispose you to the fungal infection.

The treatment
A topical medicine is usually given for direct application on the wound. The doctor can also give you some pills to swallow for about 4 weeks. This type of infection can be stubborn and can take a while to clear away even under treatment. If it shows signs of a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be given to clear the secondary infection.

Prevention
You can try the following strategies to prevent the occurrence of the athlete’s foot and to shorten the healing period.
Keep your feet as dry as possible by wiping in between the toes after bath, wearing open shoes or walking bare footed to try and allow as much air to circulate in between the toes.
If you have sweaty feet, change your socks regularly and always put on clean socks every time.
Always allow your shoes to dry, alternate your pairs. If you can afford please buy as many pairs as possible.
Always wear water proof sandals when taking a shower in public places and dry them afterwards.
Avoid sharing shoes and socks with anyone.
If you have sweaty feet you can try some foot powders to prevent foot sweating and possible fungal infections.
Avoid plastic shoes to prevent excessive sweating of the feet.

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