Tinea pedis is a very common and highly contagious infection, and while the name athlete’s foot suggests that it is only athletes who can contract this infection, if you are a couch potato or prefer wearing ballet shoes instead, we are all susceptible to contracting this undesirable condition at any time.
What are the Causes?
Tinea pedis is a fungal infection that affects the skin of the feet as well as the toenails and it generally thrives in humid conditions (1). It is not all that difficult to contract this infection and the spores can be transferred by direct contact, floors, bathmats, shoes stockings, pool surfaces and even our pets. Poor hygiene is a common factor as well. Depending on the treatment method and severity of the infection, it may last for a few days or potentially a couple of weeks. Without the proper treatment, this infection often reoccurs.
Take Home Note:
Tinea pedis is highly contagious and can be easily spread by human contact, pets, bathroom floors and pool surfaces. Poor hygiene is also a common factor. Athlete’s foot can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks and may reoccur without proper treatment.
What are the Symptoms?
Tinea pedis usually starts with a red itchy flakey rash between the toes. You may find that the itching becomes worse when you take off your socks. There are 3 different signs of athlete’s foot to look out for (2):
This is usually characterized as an infection between the toes, it generally starts between your pinky toes. The symptoms associated with interdigital infections are:
- A burning sensation between the toes.
- Red rash on the skin that appears to be dry and scaly and may give off a smell.
- Your skin may turn a little bit green in more severe cases.
This infection typically spreads across the entire sole of your foot and may even spread to the heel and sides of your foot. Should the infection spread to your nails, it may cause them to get thick, or in more severe cases, the nail falls off (3). You might need a combination of creams for this infection to treat the foot as well as the nail. The symptoms of Moccasin infection include:
- Your feet may appear dry, itchy or sore at first and the skin then begins to crack, peel or thicken after a while.
This type of infection causes blistering under the arch of the foot. The blisters are small and can be easily ruptured when scratched. The bacterial infection may spread if the blister bursts which may require a course of antibiotics to help reduce the infection. The symptoms of Vesicular Infection include:
- Small red blisters that appear on your soles or between the toes
Take Home Note:
The main symptom of Tinea pedis is usually a red rash that appears to be scaly and itchy. There are 3 common infections to look out for. These include Interdigital infection, Moccasin infection and Vesicular infection.
How to Get Relief from Athlete’s Foot?
There are many over the counter treatments designed to provide relief from athlete’s foot. The trick is to look for products that contain the correct ingredients which help to destroy the infection from deep within the skin which prevents the infection from recurring. These are the ingredients to look out for:
Undecylenic acid is derived from castor oil and is commonly found in topical ointments. It is an organic compound that is colorless and classified as an unsaturated fatty acid. The way in which this works is that it helps relieve itching, burning, and irritation. It also helps to inhibit the bacteria from growing or spreading any further. According to research, Undecylenic acid is more effective than products that contain tolnaftate (4).
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil has been used for centuries because it has been found to have antifungal and antiseptic properties. Tea Tree oil works in most products because it can effectively help to reduce itching, swelling, flaking and burning associated with most fungal infections.
Manuka oil is renowned for its variety of health benefits and is becoming more popular in the cosmetic and healthcare industry. It has potent anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties that can quickly help to relieve symptoms of Tinea pedis. It is helpful for inhibiting the growth of bacteria and restores moisture to the skin. It is also a cytophylactic which means that it helps to actively promote new cell growth needed to help heal wounds rapidly.
Juglans nigra, or more commonly known as the black walnut, is known to have antifungal and astringent properties which help to relieve the symptoms associated with Tinea pedis by expelling any parasites or harmful bacteria found in the body. It acts as an astringent which means that it helps to contract open pores of the skin, locking in the treatment and preventing further infection from penetrating the skin.
Take Home Note:
While there are many treatments available from your local drug store, it is important to look for one that contains the right ingredients needed to fight off the bacterial infection and prevent it from spreading or recurring long after the symptoms have disappeared. Look for products that contain active ingredients such as Undecylenic acid, Tea Tree oil, Manuka oil, and Juglans nigra for the most effective results.
There are many ways to prevent contracting Tinea pedis, especially if you are sharing or visiting public spaces such as gyms, locker rooms or public pools.
- Always make sure you wear a pair of flip-flops if you are using a public shower, walking around the locker rooms or pool area.
- Be sure to always wear a fresh pair of socks or stockings every day.
- Never share towels.
- Dry your feet thoroughly after washing them as bacteria thrives in moist warm conditions.
- Be sure to wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe when necessary.
- Always wash your hands after applying the treatment to prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of your body.
Take Home Note:
Prevention is always better than cure and you should take extra measures to avoid contracting the infection if you share or visit public spaces. Be sure to practice good hygiene by drying your feet off properly, changing socks and stockings daily and allowing your feet to breathe.
When to Seek a Doctor?
Should you find that you are not getting any results from the treatment you have chosen, consult your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe you with antibiotics or two separate treatments if the infection has spread to the nails. Seek a doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- If you notice increased redness
- Your immune system has weakened
- The infection has spread to the nails