Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is caused by several types of fungal organisms. It is quite common and usually easily treated. Two approaches, changing socks and shoes frequently and administering local medications, usually resolve infection.
The treatment of athlete’s foot is nonsurgical. Skin moisture can be decreased with periodic sock changes throughout the day. Shoes should be rotated; don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. Allow time for the feet to be exposed without any covering.
After a shower, thoroughly dry the space between the toes; a hair dryer set on cold can help. Feet may continue to sweat after a hot shower, so it’s best to wait until they have cooled before putting on socks. These interventions are as important as treatment with a medication.
Antifungal agents are readily available over the counter and are marketed for athlete’s foot. These typically contain clotrimazole, miconazole, or tolnaftate. Sprays, powders, and creams can be utilized with success. Use the medication for several weeks after symptoms have resolved to decrease the risk that the infection will return.
The infection will typically resolve several weeks after therapy is started, especially if hygiene practices are followed.
Most infections are successfully cured. However, longer-term medication may be required for persistent infection.
Athlete’s foot can be present at the same time as other fungal infections. These can include jock itch, ringworm, or toenail fungus. The involved area can also become infected with bacteria in addition to fungus. This should be considered if the foot becomes red or swollen or if you have increasing pain or drainage. In such cases, seek medical attention immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I prevent athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot cannot always be prevented. In general, keeping your feet as dry as possible through frequent sock changes, rotating shoes, and thoroughly drying after a shower will decrease your risk of infection.
*Source: American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society® http://www.aofas.org