When people talk about fungal foot infection, they are usually referring to one of two main types of foot fungus: infection of the skin (athlete's foot), or infection of the toenails (onychomycosis). Both are very common, but athlete's foot is generally much easier to get rid of.
Both kinds of foot fungus result from the organism invading and beginning to multiply on the foot. The fungus gets nutrients from keratin, a type of protein that is found in skin cells and nails. As it breaks down keratin, skin becomes flaky and scaly and nails start to crumble and discolor. The same type of fungus, most commonly one called Trichophyton rubrum, can cause both kinds of foot fungal infection, though some other types of and various yeasts normally only invade the nails.
Knowing a few foot fungus facts will help get rid of the infection faster. First, a fungal infection should always be properly diagnosed by a physician: other things can cause flaking skin and deformed nails. Second, all types of foot fungus are normally present in the environment: you do not need to be exposed to someone with an infection to catch one yourself. Your body's immune system fights off most kinds of foot fungus on its own, but if you do see signs, you should act promptly before it becomes too advanced.
There are other important foot fungus facts, regarding infections, treatment options, and what to expect with various remedies. There are prescription drugs, over the counter medications, homeopathic preparations and home remedies. Antifungal drugs will work against all types of foot fungus, though your doctor may choose a different treatment for a nail infected with yeast.
On the skin, most kinds of foot fungus clear up quite quickly with a topical treatment (creams, ointments, powders), while fungal nail infections are often difficult to cure because topical treatments do not reach the growth under the thick nail. Treatment may need to be continued for many months. Knowing these foot fungus facts will keep you from getting discouraged if you do not see treatment results as quickly as you expected.
Practice a few simple things to help your body fight off all kinds of foot fungus. Fungi like damp warm conditions, so keep your feet clean and make sure you dry them well after bathing. Wear shoes in wet public places like swimming pool decks and showers, but if your feet tend to be sweaty, avoid wearing shoes for extended periods – your feet need a chance to dry. Change and launder your socks regularly and use an antifungal powder in your shoes.
Some types of foot fungus are common in soil, but it's okay to go barefoot as long as you do not have cuts or irritated skin that could allow a fungus entry. In fact, it's good for your feet to get fresh air. Finally, remember your foot fungus facts, keep your nails trimmed, apply first aid promptly to any foot injury, and keep an eye on your skin and nails so that you spot a developing fungal foot infection right away.