Athlete's foot almost always responds well to self-care, although it may come back. Long-term medicine and preventive measures may be needed.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection and is known as tinea pedis in medical terms. It is commonly called the ringworm of the foot.
The fungus that grows on your foot and causes athlete’s foot may also grow on your heels, palms, and between the fingers. This fungus thrives in warm, moist areas, so certain things increase your risk of getting an athlete’s foot such as:
- Wearing closed shoes, especially if they are plastic-lined
- Keeping your feet wet for long periods
- Sweating a lot
- Developing a minor skin or nail injury
Athlete’s foot is a contagious infection and can be passed on through direct contact or by sharing shoes, socks, stockings, and shower or pool surfaces.
Prognosis of Athlete’s Foot
Several weeks of treatment with a medication applied to the feet can usually cure athlete's feet in people with new or short-term symptoms. Chronic or recurring athlete's foot infections also can be cured this way, but may require significant changes in foot care and several weeks of treatment.
More severe cases may call for an oral medication. Even after successful treatment, people remain at risk of re-infection if they do not follow prevention guidelines. Relapses are common.
Preventing Athlete’s Foot
The risk of getting an athlete’s foot can be reduced by keeping your feet clean, dry, and powdered. You could use an over-the-counter antifungal foot powder for this. You should:
- Wash and thoroughly dry your feet twice a day.
- Wear fresh socks and stockings daily; avoid repeating them.
- Try not to wear the same shoes day after day and allow them time to dry completely.
- Let your feet get enough air by wearing sandals and walking barefoot every once in a while. But, in case you can’t do that, wear cotton socks and fabric or leather shoes. Try avoiding water-resistant synthetics.
- Don’t share shoes, socks, or towels.
- If you get athlete's foot, wash your socks and towels in the hottest water possible.
- Be very cautious of your feet if you take an antibiotic. The medication can kill beneficial bacteria that normally control the fungus that causes athlete's foot.
Dermatologists specialize in the treatment of skin disorders, including athlete's foot. Additionally, family medicine physicians, internal medicine physicians, paediatricians, podiatrists (foot doctors), and other practitioners may also treat this common infection.
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