What causes Athletes Foot?
The fungi that cause Athletes Foot (also known as tinea of the feet) survive well in warm humid areas such as showers, changing rooms at swimming pools, and in the moist dark areas between the toes. Infected scales of skin from someone who already has the problem are usually the source. Water tends to leave the skin soft and easy for the fungi to penetrate the skin of the latest victim.
Tinea is recognised by itchy soft white skin usually between the toes. Sometimes there are cracks, redness and occasional burning or stinging in the infected area. It may spread to the soles and sides of the feet ('moccasin foot') if left untreated.
How is it treated?
The most effective treatments are the newer antifungals such as Lamisil, Batrafen, Daktarin and Canesten which come in a variety of forms - creams, lotions and powders (all available from CyberChemist). They need to be applied once or twice a day. These preparations should be used for up to two weeks after the tinea has disappeared. It takes that long to actually eradicate the fungal infection - and if you don’t there’s an increased chance of the problem recurring.
If the infection has spread to the soles and sides of the feet, this may require oral antifungal treatment which must be prescribed by a doctor.
Other useful tips are:
- Wear cotton socks to minimise foot perspiration and change them daily. A foot antiperspirant such as Neat Feet may be useful.
- Keep the shower clean - use a normal household bleach so the others in your family don’t get infected.
- Dry your feet last and pay special attention to the skin between the toes.
- Some foot rashes look like tinea but in fact aren’t - you should see your doctor if the rash becomes swollen or oozes; or if tinea treatment fails to get rid of the symptoms in 3 or 4 days.