Athlete's Foot, Fungal Infections and Treatments Available
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the feet. Sometimes called ringworm (though there are no actual worms present) it can affect anyone, though is more common in teenagers and young adults. Definite incidence rates are difficult to determine as GP’s are often unaware of who has had athlete’s foot so auditing of this condition is tricky.
It is a highly contagious disorder and can be transmitted from either direct or indirect contact, and cross infection of both feet is highly likely.
Occasionally athlete’s foot can be passed onto the hands and present with the same symptoms of itchiness, redness and sometimes a rash between the toes.
TreatmentsUsing towels that are kept separate from anyone else’s, wash and dry the feet twice a day, paying particular attention to thorough drying techniques.
Many supermarkets and chemists stock a variety of creams, sprays and powders that treat athlete’s foot, with all products containing anti-fungal ingredients that aim to kill the fungal spores. Many will require constant treatment for up to six weeks, so please persevere.
It is very important to remember to wash your hands thoroughly after applying the lotions, to avoid transmitting the infection to other areas of the body; again use a separate towel.
Some creams may contain steroids which should be avoided for treatment of young children, those who are pregnant or breast-feeding without prior consultation with your GP. If you have an existing illness that has decreased your immune or circulatory systems, or if you have diabetes (especially uncontrolled), it is very important to treat quickly to prevent deterioration of the health of the feet.
Complementary therapy may prove useful as experts suggest a footbath containing a few drops of tea tree or geranium oil may help treat this condition.
If these treatments do not seem to be working, please seek advice from your GP as oral anti-fungal medications may be required, or there may be another cause for the symptoms.
Prevention of Athlete’s FootAlways ensure that you dry between your toes after bathing or showering as fungal infections thrive on small, warm and moist areas.
Keep other aspects of personal hygiene up-to-date by changing socks at least once a day, changing bed-linen at appropriate intervals and by keeping toe nails short and clean.
Try to avoid the prolonged wearing of tight shoes, especially those that are made of synthetic materials as this increases the risk of developing athlete’s foot.
Avoid walking in bare feet around swimming pools and the like, as these environments are a huge source of fungal infections as they provide a perfect setting for fungal spore growth.
Take your shoes off when you can and allow them to rest, relax and dry out by permitting the circulation of air. Spend time with bare feet when possible, so long as there is no risk of infection from others in the household.
If a fellow housemate is known to have athlete’s foot, never share towels, flannels, socks or shoes with them until you know they are free of all infection.
If you are the sufferer of athlete’s foot, prevent further infections by treating promptly as bacteria will enjoy the environment of the fungal infection and breed quickly causing a different infection.