Although it is winter out, you can still have flaking, itchy, red skin on your feet. This condition is more commonly known as Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, and while this condition is more prevalent in the warm months, you can get Athlete's foot in the cold winter months. Athlete's foot is caused by a fungal infection. Our feet typically tend to get fungal infections because fungus breeds in dark, moist, warm environments and our shoes are a perfect place for it to grow. Fungus also loves to grow in places like swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. In fact, athletes are so prone to Athlete's foot that was partly how it got its name! Athlete's foot is the most common fungal infection of the skin and can often go hand-in-hand with fungal toenails.
Besides the itchy, scaly, dry skin, Athlete's foot loves the feet of those who sweat a lot. This condition tends to occur on the bottoms of our feet and in between the toes. Those with acute problems may experience blisters or fissures. If the blisters break the fungus is likely to spread to other parts of the foot, as fungus is highly contagious. The burning and itching that goes with blisters may be relieved by draining the blisters or applying cool water compresses. Prolonged Athlete's foot infections may cause secondary bacterial infections.
Podiatrists diagnose Athlete's foot from a clinical examination. Doctors looking for a more definitive diagnosis may scrape the affected area and culture the fungus, which can take up to three weeks for it to grow. Culturing is not always the best method of determining if Athlete's foot is present as it can produce a false negative result because the scraping was not sufficient.
Your podiatrist will seek to control the fungal infection and prevent any secondary infection from occurring. Oral antibiotics will be prescribed, as well as soaking the feet in Epsom salts and warm water, and thoroughly drying the feet, especially between the toes. In the warmer months, wearing sandals to reduce moisture accumulation will be helpful. If you have feet that sweat a lot, you should change your socks often throughout the day. There are also antifungal powders, sprays, and/or creams that may be helpful in your particular case. Be sure to make an appointment with your local podiatrist to prevent Athelete's Foot from spreading and bacterial infections from occurring.
Dr. Tina Boucher is a podiatrist in Meriden CT and owns Central CT Foot Care Center. People with Athlete's foot should know that it is a treatable condition and can be done so conservatively. Visit her website at: http://www.centralctfootcare.com and her blog: http://www.centralctfootcare.blogspot.com