Tinea pedis is the medical term for athlete’s foot, one of the most well-known fungal foot conditions. Tinea pedis got its nickname because of its tendency to infect athletes, who often wear hot, sweaty athletic shoes that provide a good breeding ground for the fungus that causes the condition. In reality, athlete’s foot can affect anyone, young or old, regardless of shoe style.
Characteristics of athlete’s foot include an itchy or burning rash that may have such symptoms as redness, odor, scaling peeling skin or small blisters that may resemble pimples. When athlete’s foot occurs between the toes it often appears as pale-looking skin that has been over-exposed to moisture from sweat.
Tinea pedis is caused by dermatophytes, which are fungi that infect the skin, hair, and nails. Sometimes yeast can cause foot infections and rashes, often between the toes. People who are prone to tinea pedis are also susceptible to toenail fungal infections (onychomycosis). This is because both conditions are caused by the same types of fungi.
Some people are prone to athlete’s foot because of a genetic predisposition or because of factors that cause a compromised immune system. Examples include steroid medications or chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
One of the most important factors contributing to athlete’s foot is sweat. Sweat is a normal response to the hot environment inside a shoe. Some people may have hyperhidrosis, or excess sweating, which can increase the chance of fungal infection even further.
The heat and humidity inside shoes create an ideal environment for dermatophytes and other fungi to thrive.
Seek treatment if the symptoms include intense redness, blistering, peeling, cracked skin, or pain. Lab tests such as a KOH prep or culture may be used to determine if the cause of symptoms is a fungal infection. Additionally, other conditions can mimic the symptoms of athlete’s foot.
In most cases, you will treat tinea pedis with medication. A Chiropodist can prescribe stronger medication to treat persistent conditions
To reduce your risk of athlete’s foot, take the following measures.
Tips to Help Prevent Athlete’s Foot
- Wash and dry your feet each day, especially being sure to dry between your toes.
- Change your socks whenever they get sweaty.
- Wear sneakers with good ventilation, such as those that have breathable mesh tops.
- Allow your shoes to dry and air out when you are not wearing them. Don’t keep them in a gym bag where they won’t get air. You may want to alternate pairs of shoes each day to ensure they get dry between wearings.
- Wear sandals or other shoes when in areas where fungi thrive, such as around public pools or in locker rooms.