Athlete’s Foot (tinea pedis) is the leading cause of itching, burning and irritation of the soles of the feet and skin between the toes. It is one of the most common foot conditions we see and treat and is a contagious infection that is typically caused by a fungus. Left untreated, not only can Athlete’s Foot spread to others, but also to other areas of your body. Most, but not all, cases of Athlete’s Foot can be treated at home, but if the infection persists, you may need to consult with a foot doctor. Seattle podiatrists can easily treat a more stubborn case of tinea pedis.
What Caused Your Athlete’s Foot Infection?
Athlete’s Foot doesn’t spontaneously develop – you must be exposed to catch it. Gyms, lockers rooms, hot tub areas, swimming pools and nail salons are common locations of exposure. W
earing someone else’s dirty socks or shoes can also expose you. Most commonly, it’s caused by walking barefoot along a surface after someone with the infection has walked barefoot. Some people are more prone to the infection than others. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments. Wearing flip flops or shower shoes in high-risk areas can protect you.
What Are Common Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?
Some people have no symptoms or mild symptoms such as dry skin on the soles of the feet. More uncomfortable symptoms include itching, burning and peeling of the skin on the bottom of the feet and between the toes. More severe infections cause cracking of the skin, pain or bleeding. You may notice redness or a rash on the bottom of the feet as well. Rarely, you may notice blistering or thick patches of reddish skin. If you scratch your feet, you may spread the infection to your hand and notice a rash or itching there as well.
What Are the Most Common Home Treatments for Tinea Pedis?
Step one is to make your feet inhospitable for the infection and this means keeping them clean and dry. Over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments should be applied nightly. If you prefer a homeopathic approach to treatment, you can try mild vinegar soaks. Moisture wicking socks, sterilized shoes and footwear that allow your feet to breathe are also helpful. For a step by step guide to treating your Athlete’s Foot yourself, read our detailed home treatment plan here. On this page you’ll also find the non-prescription medications we recommend.
When Should You See Us for Treatment of Athletes Foot?
If you have been treating yourself for two weeks or more and have not seen significant improvement, you need professional treatment. If you have ongoing and severe itching of the feet, skin changes or blisters that are not getting better, contact us today for an appointment with a podiatrist in Seattle. If you experience any of the following circumstances, don’t delay in contacting us for diagnosis and treatment:
- Home treatments are not working
- Itching is not improving or is worsening
- The infected area is getting larger
- The infection has spread to the toenails
- You also have toenail fungus
The same fungus causes both Athlete’s Foot and thick, fungal toenails. These conditions must be treated at the same time and treatment must involve both the toenails and the surrounding skin of the toes and feet. This often requires stronger medicines than you can get without a prescription.
How Will We Diagnose Your Athlete’s Foot Infection?
The first step is to confirm that you really do have Athlete’s Foot and not another skin condition that shares similar symptoms and appearance. A physical examination of your feet will usually allow us to make a diagnosis. If there is a chance it may be another ailment, we may send a skin scraping from your feet to a lab to test for which type of fungal infection is present. This test will help us determine the best treatment option to clear up your infection quickly.
How Do We Treat Your Athlete’s Foot Infection?
The severity of your infection and your level of discomfort will determine the course of treatment we take. Here is an overview of what your treatment may include:
- Prescription topical medications – these are stronger and much more effective than those you get over-the-counter.
- Shoe sterilization – we may also give you a prescription or recommend products to kill the fungus inside your shoes.
- Risk factors – we will treat any underlying problems that contribute. For example, excessive sweating is a risk factor and we can prescribe medication to limit this.
- Related problems – we will treat associated conditions. For example, if you get a bacterial infection along with the fungal infection, this must also be treated.
- Preventative self-care – we will teach you a number of techniques to prevent the problem from returning.
Don’t wait to get treated. If your feet are itching or you have any skin problems with your feet, contact us today for an appointment.