The fungus among us. Athlete’s Foot, Tinea pedis, and jock itch.

I see a ton of factory workers as patients. Many have to wear hot, heavy, steel toe boots that have no ventilation and make the feet sweat. In addition to that they work in sweltering hot environments and the hot summer months compound these problems even more. But it’s not just occurring in feet…

Athlete's Foot. It's not just for athletes and doesn't only occur in the feet.

Athlete’s Foot. It’s not just for athletes and doesn’t only occur in the feet.

A very common condition I’ve been seeing in the health clinic is Athlete’s foot. You don’t have to be an athlete to get this skin fungus. In fact, most of us have had the pleasure of this nuisance condition at one time or another. That’s because it’s easy to get and highly contagious. Medical professionals may call this same condition “tinea pedis”. We just love to give things complicated sounding names.

Athlete’s foot usually affects the areas between your toes. It’s a skin condition caused by fungus that develops and grows in a moist, wet, and hot environment. The fungus is everywhere in our environment so most people are exposed to it. Even people with really good hygiene can get this. Symptoms include itching, cracked and peeling skin, soreness if the skin breaks, and scaly skin. Sometimes redness and blisters can occur. It’s often worse between the toes. The feet and toes are not the only area this can occur however. This makes the name “Athlete’s foot” misleading. I have seen some women that get this fungus underneath the breasts. Again, it’s more common in a hot environment and that fold of skin under the breasts can be particularly prone to getting hot, sweaty, and moist. This same fungus can cause jock itch and fingernail or toenail fungal infections. If you have ever heard of ringworm, that is a fungal infection as well.

How do i treat it? Fungal Infections!

So here is how you treat and prevent Athlete’s foot. Go to the store and get an anti fungal powder to apply to the infected areas. It can take 4-6 weeks of treatment. Possibly longer. You can try a cream if you want but i think powders are better because they help wick away moisture. Wear cotton or wool socks and change them out often if they become damp. Bring a couple pairs of socks to work with you. It’s important to keep your feet clean and dry. When possible, wear sandals or shoes with ventilation. Natural materials are better than man-made products. Air out your shoes when you aren’t wearing them. Discard and replace your shoes if they are old and smelly. Be careful in areas that other people may have athlete’s foot that make you more prone to picking it up. Inspect bowling shoes and skate rentals before wearing them and wear something on your feet in public locker rooms, showers, and around the pool. You can also put athletes foot powder in your shoes. When you wash your feet and toes use an exfoliating cloth. Try soaking your feet in a dilute white vinger solution. Mix one part vinegar to 4 parts water. You can also try a foot soak in Burow’s solution. This is an astringent solution that you can find over the counter.These measures should help your feet. Let me know if you want solutions for other areas or have questions about this topic.

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Barbara Grubbs, Nurse Practitioner

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