Your skin is your first line of defense against everything outside your body. It’s a flexible but solid “wall” that keeps out the nasty infections and foreign objects that could cause real damage. However, it’s still susceptible to problems. The skin on your feet is regularly exposed to pathogens that can cause uncomfortable issues, like athlete’s foot. You have to invest in your foot care to keep your skin healthy.
Defining the Invader
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that damages the skin on your feet. Frequently it appears between your toes, but it can affect all areas, from the bottom of your soles to the tops of your lower limbs. It creates a red, itchy rash on your skin. Often your feet feel scaly and dry. You may develop oozing blisters or other sores as well. As the condition progresses, it may get under your toenails and cause damage there, resulting in a fungal nail infection.
The condition is caused by a type of contagious microscopic fungi that thrives in warm, damp environments. You can pick it up almost anywhere that allows it to grow, particularly pools, locker rooms, saunas, and public bathrooms. Direct exposure to the footwear or the bare feet of an infected person can also pass on the problem. Since feet are frequently sweaty and confined in warm shoes, they can offer an ideal breeding ground for the pathogen. The fungus can continue to grow in your shoes, too, especially if you sweat a lot in your footwear. All of this is part of what makes the infection so hard to eliminate.
Repelling the Attack and Restoring the Skin
This infection does not improve on its own—in fact, it tends to worsen and develop complications if you allow it to progress. You need to treat athlete’s foot carefully to eliminate it completely, both at the source on your skin and in your shoes where it could cause reinfection. We will examine your lower limbs and use diagnostic tests to rule out other possible skin conditions. Then you can begin targeted treatments.
You will need to begin anti-fungal medications right away. Ointments, creams, powders, and sprays are all effective topical medicines that help eliminate the infection on the surface of the feet. Occasionally a stubborn case will need stronger, oral medications. Wash your feet every day and wear a fresh pair of breathable socks—moisture-wicking ones are best. Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day, either. Rotate though your shoes and store them in an open area so that they can dry completely between uses. You may need to use anti-fungal sprays or powders in your footwear as well.
Of course, preventing the issue from developing in the first place is better for your skin than dealing with the damage afterwards. Taking some simple steps can help go a long way in preventing the problem. Avoid walking barefoot in high-risk areas, like public showers and pool decks. Instead, use sandals or shower shoes to add a layer of separation from contaminated surfaces. Wash your feet and change your socks daily. You may even want to pre-treat your lower limbs with an anti-fungal powder or spray.
If you do develop an infection from athlete’s foot, know that there are ways you can restore your skin and eliminate your discomfort. Don’t put off seeking treatment and allow the condition to become chronic, or spread to others you care about. Contact Dr. Gerald Mauriello in Belvidere or Hackettstown, NJ, so our team can help you take care of your feet. Call (908) 475-8750 or submit a request on our website to reach us for an appointment.