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Athletes Foot

Aug 03, 2022

Do you have itchy, red or scaly feet?

Is it spreading?

Do other members of your family have it too?

Here we discuss all about athlete’s foot and how to treat and prevent it.  


What Is Athlete’s Foot?  

Athlete’s Foot -also called tinea pedis-is a fungal infection of the skin that generally starts between your toes but can occur anywhere on the foot. It can also develop alongside fungal nail infections. The term athlete’s foot is a misleading term, as this condition does not only exist among athletes.  


How Is It Caused?  

Athlete's foot is caused by a type of fungus. Damp socks or shoes alongside warm, humid conditions promote its development due to excessive moisture. Tighter shoes cause friction between the toes, which can cause a break in the skin, where the fungus enters and spreads. 

Athlete's foot is contagious. It can spread by skin contact with someone with the infection, or from contaminated surfaces and items, such as towels, footwear and floors. If left untreated, the fungus can spread to other parts of the body. 


What Are The Symptoms?

Athlete's foot symptoms vary from person to person. Some people have severe irritation, others have few or no symptoms. Common symptoms include:


  • Peeling, cracking, flaking, scaling of the feet 
  • Itching 
  • Redness 
  • Blisters 
  • Softening and breaking down of the skin, which is white in colour and occurs between the toes


Secondary bacterial infections may develop due to irritation, particularly if you scratch the area.  


Long-term outlook

Athlete’s foot infections can be mild or severe. Some clear up quickly, and others last a long time. Athlete’s foot infections generally respond well to antifungal treatment. However, sometimes fungal infections are difficult to eliminate. Long-term treatment with antifungal medications may be necessary to keep athlete’s foot infections from returning.



Athlete’s foot can lead to complications in some cases. Mild complications include an allergic reaction to the fungus, which can lead to blistering on the feet or hands. It’s also possible for the fungal infection to return after treatment.

There can be more severe complications if a secondary bacterial infection develops. In this case, your foot might be swollen, painful, and hot. Pus, drainage, and fever are additional signs of a bacterial infection.

It’s also possible for the bacterial infection to spread to the lymph system. A skin infection could lead to infections of your lymphatic system or lymph nodes.


How To Prevent It

  • Wash your hands and feet regularly, especially after touching an infected area. 
  • Dry well between the toes. 
  • Do not put moisturiser/emollient between the toes 
  • Attend a podiatry appointment for routine footcare and advice, particularly if you have diabetes.
  • Be cautious about pedicurists - they are usually not healthcare professionals. If instruments are not sterilised, infections can spread.
  • Choose breathable footwear.
  • Wear sweat-absorbing socks such as sports or bamboo socks or change your socks throughout the day.
  • Do not share towels, mats or footwear.
  • Treat shoes with antifungal shoe sprays or powder and allow to dry for 24 hours.
  • Wear footwear e.g. flip flops when in communal areas e.g. swimming pools.
  • Wash infected socks/hosiery and towels with a laundry disinfectant at a high temperature (taking care not to damage clothing). Temperatures above 60 degrees kills the fungal spores. Otherwise soak socks in boiling water and wash at normal temperature.
  • If you have sweaty feet, use an antiperspirant and talcum powder. 
  • Ensure you store the OTC treatment appropriately and you use it within the expiry date.


What Can A Podiatrist Do For Me? 

A podiatrist can advise you on the best treatment options, depending on the severity of the condition and any medical conditions you may have. They can explain how to prevent infections, as athlete’s foot is very common and can reoccur. It is important to see a podiatrist for a skin infection if you have diabetes, poor circulation, neuropathy (loss of sensation), psoriasis or a weakened immune system. They can distinguish between fungal and bacterial infections. This is important as antifungals will not resolve a case of cellulitis, where antibiotics are needed in a timely manner. 

If you are worried about Athletes Foot, give us a call and a member of the team will be happy to help:

📞01 9012009


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