This is a fungal infection which is also called tinea pedis that affects the skin of the feet. Athletes’ foot  is capable of spreading from the toenails to the hands. This fungal infection is commonly seen among athletes hence its name. It is commonly affect the bottom of the foot growing in-between the toenails and around its surface. It was first medically described in 1908. It affects 10%{1} of the population globally. It is found to be more common among males than females. It frequently occurs in older children and younger adults.

Athlete’s foot is very contagious and can be spread through direct and indirect contact with others. This infection is promoted by warmth and moisture that’s why it is often seen in people who regularly wear closed or covered shoes.

 

Risk factors for athlete foot

They include;

  • Walking barefooted in public places e.g. Swimming pools, showers, bathrooms and toilets
  • Soaking feet in dirty or muddy water
  • Sharing foot wears, socks with an infected person
  • Wearing tight fitted shoes
  • Having sweaty feet

 

Signs and symptoms

  • Itching sensation
  • Burning sensation
  • Tingling sensation
  • Blisters on the feet
  • Cracking and peeling skin
  • Drying of soles and feet
  • Discolouration of toenails

 

Diagnosis

This is done by a physician after the feet has been examined using skin test. Another type of test commonly done for athletes foot is skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam. In this test, a part of the affected skin is scraped off and put in a potassium hydroxide. The chemical destroys normal cells but leaves fungi cells untouched.

 

Treatment

Athlete’s foot can be treated with the following measures

  • Medications: There are a number of anti-fungal over the counter medications, creams, sprays, lotions and powders used in the treatment of athlete’s foot. These lotions or creams can be applied directly to the affected part of the foot to reduce itching or painful lesions.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: This is used for treatment of fungal infections on the surface of the skin and also for some with superimposed bacterial infection.
  • Talcum powder: These powders are effective in the treatment of fungal infections because of its anti-fungal properties. You can use this by applying talcum powder to dried affected foot area before you put on your socks.
  • Garlic: One study even found that a derivative of garlic, alone, resulted in a complete cure in 79 percent of participants after just seven days. You can make use of this by crushing 2-3cloves of garlic ad rubbing them on the affected areas.
  • Vinegar: This is useful in the treatment of fungus on the surface of the skin. Soak feet continually in a diluted 4 parts of water with vinegar for a least 1or 2 weeks.

Prevention

  • Avoid walking around barefooted
  • Avoid put your feet in dirty water
  • Ensure you wear sandals or bath shoes around showers, bathrooms or swimming pools
  • Avoid sharing bath shoes or any other footwear
  • Ensure your socks that are breathable if you must wear shoes at all, cottons are go for you
  • Avoid wearing tight fitted shoes
  • Avoid sharing socks or shoe pads
  • Avoid sharing nail instruments in salons
  • Regular application of anti-fungal cream and powders into shoes would be of great benefit.

 

Complications

  • Nail fungal infection(onychomycosis
  • Body skin fungus (tinea corporis)
  • Groin fungus(tinea cruris)

 

Reference

  • B. Havlickova, V. A. Czaika, and M. Friedrich (2008). “Epidemiological trends in skin mycoses worldwide.” Mycoses.