Athlete’s Foot Treatment Questions and Answers
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What are the causes of Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that is caused by the same type of fungus that causes jock itch and ringworm. Warm, humid conditions are the ideal breeding ground for the organisms’ growth, such as damp socks and shoes. Athlete’s foot is contagious and is spread through contact with an infected person or by coming into contact with a contaminated surface. It can be caused by wearing damp socks on a frequent basis, as well as from tight fitting shoes that don’t allow the feet to breathe. The infection can be spread by sharing soft fabric items with someone who has athlete’s foot, such as rugs, mats, clothes, shoes or bed linens. It can also be spread through public spaces where people walk around barefoot, like a sauna, swimming pool, locker room and communal baths and showers. Although called athlete’s foot, it can spread to other parts of your body if they come into contact with the infected area. Scratching or picking at the area can cause the fungus to spread to the hands, the toenails can also be infected from the spread of the fungus on the feet and jock itch can develop in the groin by transfer of the fungus on the hands or a towel.
What does athlete’s foot look like?
A doctor can often easily identify athlete’s foot by looking at the affected area however they may also send a skin sample or scraping to a lab for testing to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential conditions. Athlete’s foot can typically by identified by a scaly red rash that starts in between the toes. Many sufferers find that the itching is at its peak right after removing their socks and shoes. Additionally, symptoms can include redness, scaling and peeling skin, small blisters that can resemble pimples and odor. The moccasin variety of athlete’s foot can often be mistaken for dry skin or eczema due to the symptoms of chronic dryness and scaling that starts on the soles of the feet and spreads up the side of the foot.
What will happen if an athlete’s foot is left untreated?
When left untreated, athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of the foot such as the toenails which can cause them to become discolored, thickened or start to crumble. The red, itchy rash can also spread to the rest of your foot, which can cause pain and discomfort if the skin gets dried and cracked. The skin can also turn white and get thicker, in addition to being swollen and flaky. The feet can form small blisters from the fungus and sores left untreated can leak fluid, giving off a bad smell. Athlete’s foot can also spread to other parts of the body such as the hands or groin. Untreated athlete’s foot can also make sufferers more susceptible to bacterial infections like cellulitis for example.
What are the stages of an athlete’s foot?
Due to the highly contagious nature of athlete’s foot, its important to know the early stages of the fungal infection to seek treatment before it progresses too far. In the early stages, athlete’s foot will appear as patches or fissures, particularly between the toes where the conditions are a perfect breeding ground for the fungus. From there, the infection will progress to itchy, red skin that can appear to be moist and will spread out from between the toes to other parts of the foot. If left untreated at this point, small blisters can form and spread out across the foot, that will expose raw fissures when they break open, causing pain and swelling. While the area between the toes is the most common starting point for athlete’s foot, it can spread to the soles of the feet and toenails if left untreated, causing the toenails to become thick and discolored. The last stage of untreated athlete’s foot can cause the fungus to spread across the shole of the foot, with foul-smelling pus oozing from the blisters and fissures.