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Athlete's Foot or Something Else?

Hav­ing trou­ble with your feet? You may be one of the many peo­ple who are expe­ri­enc­ing a com­mon skin issue called Tinea Pedis, or Ath­lete’s Foot. This prob­lem refers to a fun­gal infec­tion of the skin that can occur in between the toes, or on the bot­tom of the foot. The symp­toms of infec­tion can include scal­ing, fis­sures, itch­ing, red­ness, and most notably, mac­er­a­tion (a white mushy like appear­ance of the skin) in between the toes. Some­times an odor may be present. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this infec­tion is extreme­ly com­mon, seen main­ly in young to mid­dle-aged men; how­ev­er, women can also be affected.

Tri­chophy­ton rubrum, a fun­gus, is the most com­mon cul­prit and caus­es an inflam­ma­to­ry response in the skin after infec­tion. There are many poten­tial sources of infec­tion; how­ev­er, hav­ing moist feet tends to be a great risk fac­tor. Pre­ven­tion of the infec­tion con­sists main­ly of keep­ing the skin of the feet and toes as dry as pos­si­ble. This can be achieved by apply­ing pow­ders such as Zea­sorb-AF, which is an over-the-counter med­ica­tion, to main­tain a dry envi­ron­ment. Oth­er pre­ven­tive mea­sures include gen­tle wash­ing and dry­ing of the feet dai­ly as well as wear­ing flip flops in moist pub­lic envi­ron­ments (such as in lock­er rooms or near swim­ming pools and show­ers) to min­i­mize exposure.

If you think you have ath­lete’s foot, or anoth­er rash of the feet, and the over-the-counter reme­dies aren’t work­ing, it is best to come into the clin­ic where your provider can eval­u­ate and treat you with some­thing more effec­tive. Cer­tain con­di­tions, such as eczema and pso­ri­a­sis, among oth­er things, can also look very much like Ath­lete’s foot. Some­times, if the skin bar­ri­er is com­pro­mised, a sec­ondary bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion can occur. Your provider will assess your feet and may con­sid­er per­form­ing a test in the office to look for fun­gal ele­ments and/​or bac­te­ria. Treat­ment of Tinea Pedis is typ­i­cal­ly top­i­cal. In advanced cas­es, oral anti-fun­gal agents or antibi­otics may be employed as need­ed. If left untreat­ed, severe cas­es may spread to infect the toe­nails, which are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more dif­fi­cult to treat.

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