How to Treat and Prevent Athlete’s Foot
“Athlete’s foot” is the more colloquial name for tinea pedis, a common, superficial fungal infection. It is acquired from walking barefoot in moist public places, like a swimming pool deck or locker room. It can result in flaky skin, cracking, and itchiness on the soles of the feet and between the toes.
Despite its name, anyone is susceptible to athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s Foot Prevention
Our board-certified dermatologists recommend that you take the following precautions to prevent athlete’s foot.
1. Wear shower shoes, flip flops, or sandals when walking around pools, gyms, shower or locker areas, and hotel rooms. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot may be on the floor. Even when taking a shower in a gym, it is important to wear shower shoes or flip flops.
2. Even if you have not gone barefoot in public areas, keep your feet dry. The fungus thrives in warm, moist areas such as inside hot, sweaty shoes. Wearing sandals or flip flops helps when it’s hot outside. Shoes that are made from synthetic materials like plastic and rubber are more likely to cause sweating.
3. Wash your feet every day with soap, and completely dry them after washing.
4. Wear socks made of natural fabrics or fabrics that dry quickly or wick moisture away from the skin. Also, be sure to change your socks every day and more often when your socks get wet.
5. Alternate the shoes you wear each day, if possible, to ensure shoes are dry when you put them on.
6. If you live with someone who has athlete’s foot, don’t share towels, linens, or shoes. Wear shoes in areas where infected feet have been.
How to Treat Tinea Pedis
Athlete’s foot is generally fairly easy to treat, but a proper diagnosis is necessary.
One of our dermatologists will carefully examine your feet to confirm that it is in fact a fungal infection, and not eczema, psoriasis or other condition. On rare occasion, a skin scraping or culture might be required.
There are a number of over-the-counter anti-fungal medications that can be helpful for athlete’s foot. These are typically applied twice daily for two to three weeks. However, if the condition fails to improve, a more potent topical prescription anti-fungal medication may be necessary. In more complicated cases, oral anti-fungal medications may be required. And finally, it is possible that an alternative condition may be responsible for the clinical picture.
If you think you might have athlete’s foot and want expert diagnosis and treatment, see one of our board-certified dermatologists at Associated Dermatologists.