A chronic, contagious infection caused by various types of fungi known as dermatophytes, athlete's foot , or tinea pedis, does not affect only athletes. Athlete's foot usually starts between the toes or on the arches, but it can spread to the bottoms and sides of your feet. It can move to other parts of the body, making early diagnosis and treatment all the more important. Fungi can also affect toenails. More information on fungal nails and treatments available at New Orleans Podiatry Associates is on our Fungal Nails page. You may also learn more about the only PinPointe Laser Clinic in New Orleans --only at NOPA. This laser quickly eradicates fungi.
Causes of Athlete's Foot
- Direct contact with an infected person's feet
- Walking barefoot in places such as gyms, public showers, and swimming pools, warm and damp locations where fungi thrive
- Wearing contaminated shoes and socks
Symptoms of Athlete's Foot
- Itchy feet
- Mild scaling
- Painful inflammation, bleeding, and blisters, although these are symptoms are rare and indicative of severe cases
Because these symptoms overlap with those seen in non-fungal rashes caused by allergic reactions, psoriasis, yeast infections, or other conditions, it is important for you to visit a podiatrist. The doctor can run a simple test known as a potassium hydroxide preparation to determine for sure whether or not you have athlete's foot.
Treatments for Athlete's Foot
- For non-serious cases, over-the-counter powders, lotions, or ointments can often help treat itching, scaling, and inflammation (Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medication.)
- Foot soaks may help dry excessive perspiration, but you should contact our office first.
- Stronger, prescribed medication may be necessary to resolve serious cases.
Prevention of Athlete's Foot
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas such as pools and gyms. Make sure you wear socks to the airport so you're not barefoot when you have to take off your shoes.
- Bring your own implements (nail files, nail clippers) when you go to your nail salon unless you're completely confident the salon sterilizes its equipment or uses disposables.
- Keep your feet clean and dry. Wearing socks made of synthetic material and shoes that allow for proper ventilation will help.
- Periodically sprinkle anti-fungal powder in your shoes.
Possible Complications from Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is more than an irritant; it can be the cause of many other conditions, some of which can be quite serious:
Fungal nail infections – If left untreated, the athlete’s foot can spread to your toenails, causing onychomycosis. This causes the nail to become thick, opaque, and crumbly. You may experience pain and inflammation under the nail, and the pain can become severe enough to cause difficulty wearing shoes or even walking.
Secondary bacterial infections – Though athlete’s foot itself is a fungal infection, it can lead to secondary bacterial infections, which cause the foot to become hot, swollen, and painful.
Infected lymph system – In rare cases, your fungal infection can spread to your lymph system and infect the lymph vessels (a condition known as lymphangitis) or the lymph nodes (known as lymphadenitis). This can be quite serious and require hospitalization.
Cellulitis – Athlete’s foot can lead to a bacterial infection deep in the skin that affects not only the skin but the fat and soft tissues as well. If left untreated, cellulitis can lead to severe complications like septicemia (also known as blood poisoning) and bone infections.
Treating athlete’s foot quickly helps to prevent these conditions from developing and can help restore your overall foot health.
How We Can Help
At New Orleans Podiatry Associates, we are experts in caring for your foot health. If you’re prone to athlete’s foot, we can provide you with preventative treatment plans to help avoid future infections. If you do develop a case of athlete’s foot or currently have symptoms, we can provide you with the appropriate treatments based on the severity of your case. For mild to moderate cases of athlete’s foot, we may recommend lotions, ointments available in our in-house pharmacy. If you have a severe athlete’s foot, our physician may prescribe specialized, antifungal medications that can help resolve your infection.
The health of your feet impacts your overall health and well-being, and we’re committed to helping our patients live their best, healthiest lives. Whether you’re worried about athlete’s foot or another condition related to your foot health, we invite you to contact New Orleans Podiatry Associates today to schedule a consultation with one of our podiatrists, and receive the athlete’s foot care that you need to get back to having healthy, comfortable feet again.