Although athlete’s foot is not considered to be a serious ailment, it can be very difficult to cure even for first rate doctors. Patients will rarely visit emergency care or a walk in clinic to have athlete’s foot treated, but that may be what’s needed. Most of these types of conditions are able to be treated at home, but when the over the counter medications are working or the condition is getting aggravated by them or just plain not doing anything, it may be time to let a doctor take a look and prescribe something a little stronger for you. First of all, let’s take a little closer look at what athlete’s foot and what causes it.
Causes of Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is what happens when tinea fungus grows on either one or both of the feet. The fungus can be contracted either through direct contact with someone else who has it or even just by coming in to contact with a contaminated surface. Warm and moist environments are the best living arrangements for the fungus such as showers, locker rooms and swimming pools.
Who Can Get it?
Pretty much any is susceptible. However, there are certain activities that can boost the risk. These include:
- Being barefoot in public places like locker rooms, showers and swimming pool
- Wearing someone else’s sock, shoes or towels
- Consistent use of tight fitting, closed toe shoes
- Letting your feet stay wet for a long time
- Having sweaty feet
- Not treating a small skin or nail injury on your feet.
It’s not just athlete’s that get the fungus but the reason it is referred to as athlete’s foot is because the areas where the fungus is mostly found is where athletes are. As you can from the list above, athlete’s exhibit most of these behaviors because of the sports they are involved in. The fungus was first found to be mostly in athlete’s, hence the given name, but it was later found out that anyone can get it, given the right set of circumstances and it is very contagious and easily spread so you should be careful.
Take all the precautions to avoid contracting it, even if it just means wearing shoes. That’s not hard to do; shower shoes should be a requirement for everyone using a public shower. Never use someone else’s socks or shoes just in case they may be infected and not know.
Each person may experience different symptoms of athlete’s foot but they will probably be a mixture of the following:
- Itching, stinging or burning between the toes and on the soles of the feet
- Itchy blisters
- Cracking and peeling skin between the toes and on the soles of the feet
- Dry or raw skin on the soles of the feet
- Thick and discolored toenails that crumble
- Toenails that are pulling away from the nail bed
If you have any of these symptoms it is time to seek treatment, immediately. More severe cases should be seen by first rate doctors in order to diagnose it properly and prescribe the best treatment or medication.
How Do Doctors Diagnose it?
The symptoms alone are usually enough to be able to diagnose the condition of athlete’s foot. However, if the doctor is unsure he or she may preform a skin test to see if there is fungus present.
A skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam is the test that is most commonly used. During the exam, the doctor takes a small scraping of the skin and puts it in potassium hydroxide. The potassium hydroxide kills the normal cells so that the fungus cells are easier to see under a microscope.
How to Treat Athlete’s Foot
Most often, the condition can be treated over the counter with a topical anti fungal cream but if you do need to go to a clinic, first rate doctors are available to prescribe whatever medication is necessary.
If over the counter medication does not seem to be helping the problem, your doctor may have you being to take an oral prescription of anti fungal medications.
Soaking your feet in salt water or vinegar has also been known to help dry out blisters so there is some relief there. Tea tree oil also has had some success in clearing up athlete’s foot but you should ask first rate doctors before trying any kind of home remedy.