Athlete’s foot: causes and symptoms

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the upper layer of the skin of the foot. This highly contagious infection, also known as tinea, is a common problem in Australia.

What causes it?

Athlete’s foot occurs when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. This can be contracted through direct contact with an infected person or by touching a surface contaminated with the fungus. It usually spreads around swimming pools and communal showers that are humid and warm. 

What are the symptoms?

The infected area will become itchy and you may experience a sensation of stinging and burning. Other symptoms include:

  • Dry, flaky, red skin
  • Cracking and peeling skin between your toes and on your soles
  • Blisters on your feet 
  • Discoloured, thick, and crumbly toenails.

How is it diagnosed?

The most common test for aAthlete’s foot isn a skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam, where the doctor scrapes off a small area of infected skin and placesd it in potassium hydroxide. Athlete’s foot can be self-diagnosed through the symptoms listed above, however its ist still important to get it checked by a health professional in case it is mistaken for another more serious condition.

Treatment options

Over the counter medications can be purchased at pharmacies that can effectively clear the infection. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe a stronger antifungal medication.

How to prevent aAthlete’s foot?

Having clean and dry feet, shoes and socks is the most effective way to minimise the risk of developing the infection. The home doctor experts at House Call Doctor also recommend the following:

  • Wash your feet twice a day with water and soap 
  • Remove shoes as soon as you finish exercising 
  • Keep your feet dry 
  • When walking around swimming pools and communal changing rooms, wear thongs. 
  • Avoid sharing socks and footwear 
  • Wash sheets and towels regularly.