Athlete's foot (also called tinea pedis) is a very common skin condition caused by fungus on the feet. It usually affects areas between the toes, toe nails and the bottom and sides of the feet. Up to 75% of the population of the western countries may have athlete's foot at some time during their lives.
If left untreated, the condition can last for years and can easily spread to other areas of the feet (discolouring and damaging the nails) and to other parts of the body. If you touch the infected areas and do not wash your hands immediately afterwards you can also spread the infection to other parts of the body and to other people as well as contaminate the bed sheets, towels and clothing
Athletes Foot fungus need an environment of warmth, moisture and darkness to thrive which are the ideal conditions in a human feet – socks and shoes (darkness), body heat (warmth) and perspiration and body sweat (moist). The problem does not occur among people in developing countries who go barefoot and who feet are healthier and more supple
It is called Athlete's Foot because it was first noticed on athletes who were walking barefoot in changing rooms, swimming pools, communal showers and saunas. However anyone can develop this infection – teenage boys and girls (it rarely affects children), men and women (more men than women are affected) of all ages suffer this unpleasant and irritating condition for years
The fungus that most commonly causes athlete's foot is called Trichophyton
The best way to prevent Athlete's Foot is to practice good foot hygiene.
- Wash your feet every day, particularly between toes
- Dry your feet thoroughly, particularly between toes
- Avoid wearing tight or synthetic footwear that does not allow your feet to 'breathe'. Shoes made of leather rather than plastics prevent the build up of moisture. Wear shoes that are well ventilated
- Change your socks or stockings at least once a day to keep your feet dry. Wash socks in hot water
- Use cotton socks whenever possible. Tight, synthetic or nylon socks accumulate moisture. Socks made from natural fiber allow your feet to 'breathe'
- Do not share towels, socks or footwear
- Wash your towels and bedding often
- Use anti-fungal powder and sprinkle on your feet and in your socks and shoes
- Ensure that your shoes are dry all the time. Do not wear same shoes every day. Give your shoes time to air and dry
- Avoid walking barefoot in public areas especially swimming pools and gyms. Always wear your own flip flops or sandals
- Go barefoot at home, especially at night