Athlete’s foot is an infectious, contagious, inflamed skin condition usually caused by a fungus known as Trichophyton which commonly affects the skin on the feet.
This skin condition can spread to the palms of your hands and underarms, particularly if you scratch the infected parts of your feet.
The version that spreads to the hands has the scientific name of ”tinea manuum” and the version that affects the feet is known as ”tinea pedis” (pedis is the Latin word for foot). Also, it is occasionally called “jungle rot” by members of the armed forces who had missions in humid tropical climates.
This skin infection can occur to any individual (it affects about 20 percent of people at some point in their lives) which has moist or damp on their feet or foot for an extended period of time. It is frequently picked up in moist places, such as – swimming pool changing areas or a gym shower floor. If tinea pedis becomes severe, a bacterial infection is commonly present, that ultimately leads to a foul odor and further skin breakdown.
You should treat this condition at the first sign of redness or itchiness between your toes, because getting rid of it may prove to be more difficult.
Symptoms of Tinea Pedis
The signs and symptoms of this infection include:
- burning, itching, redness, and stinging between the toes or on the soles of the feet;
- unpleasant foot odor;
- the skin may frequently peel, and in severe conditions, there may be some fissuring, cracking, and pain in the toe webs;
- in severe cases, one may experience bleeding from the cracked skin;
- red raised borders with healing the middle of the infection, creating a ring-like appearance.
This skin condition is caused by the fungus Trichophyton rubrum or other types of fungi (like – Epidermophyto and Microsporum). This type of fungus is quite contagious and breeds best in moist conditions. Factors which raise your chances of getting this fungus include:
- not drying the feet after being in contact with water;
- having a weakened immune system;
- using some prescription drugs, such as – corticosteroids, antibiotics, birth control pills, and medicines which suppress the immune function;
- dermatitis (skin inflammation) or allergies;
- sharing shoes with an infected friend;
- developing a minor nail or skin injury;
- ingesting foods which are high in inflammatory chemicals, such as caffeine, processed fats, or alcohol;
- wearing closed shoes, particularly ones with plastic linings;
- excessive perspiration;
- receiving nail treatments at a salon which doesn’t sterilize properly the equipment which touches your feet;
- having diabetes;
- genetic predisposition;
- walking around barefoot in places where these fungi can spread quickly, like – locker rooms, communal showers, or gyms.
Note – approximately 50 percent of patients with tinea pedis experience recurrence, since the fungus spores can survive easily in skin cracks between the toes.
If this infection is a mild case, an over the counter antifungal cream (like – clotrimazole, or miconazole) should be able to cure it. However, the treatment should be continued for about 14 days after the symptoms have disappeared to be 100 percent sure that the infection has been treated correctly. If the topical antifungal drugs do not work, your health care specialist will prescribe you an oral antifungal medication and antibiotics to treat bacterial infections which may occur from scratching.
Note – this condition occasionally spreads to a nail. This can be addressed, but it takes a few weeks of antifungal tablets (which have several side effects) to clear the infection from a nail. Some medicines are not suitable for people with sensitive skin or pregnant and nursing women.
Can You Get Athlete’s Foot On Your Hands?
This condition usually occurs on the feet, however, if you touch your already infected feet, you can get it on your hands, especially between the fingers or on the palms.
- keep the feet dry by using breathable shoes and socks;
- wear socks made of wool or cotton, plus, change the socks when they have become damp or twice a day;
- wear shower shoes or sandals when walking around a pool or a locker room;
- allow your shoes to air for about one day before you wear them again;
- avoid shoes produced of synthetic material, like – rubber or vinyl;
- don’t wear someone else’s shoes, particularly if that individual has this skin condition;
- wash your feet daily and dry them after washing.
How To Beat This Infectious Skin Condition Naturally
The antifungal and antibacterial compounds in ACV make it a remarkable natural remedy for toenail and skin fungus. This is due to a substance that is found in apple cider vinegar, called acetic acid, which can kill the fungus and prevent it from multiplying. You can soak your feet (or hands) each night before bed for about half an hour.
It is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. You can add a clove or two to your food or apply topically with the antifungal cream to speed up the healing process. This is the most effective and economical remedy for this condition.
It acts as a drying agent to remove moisture from the infected areas and creates an unfriendly condition for the fungus to multiply.
Tea Tree Oil
It has strong antiseptic properties which kill the fungus – that is the main reason it is frequently used to treat various fungal infections (including both candidiasis and ringworm). You may add a few drops to a small quantity of water to soak or apply directly to the feet or hands.
It is useful for killing off fungus and harmful bacteria. It can be applied topically on your hands or feet as well as it can be sprayed on the inside of the shoes after use to prevent re-infection.
It is a good home remedy for this infection which can stunt the growth of fungus, hence, preventing the fungus from spreading. You can powder your feet with baking soda before putting on your socks.
It has potent antifungal properties due to the presence of lauric acid. Apply some coconut oil on your hands or feet.
Note – it is recommended to use extra virgin oil; however, it is fine if it is not.