Identify and treat athlete’s foot

Identify and treat athlete's foot

Athlete’s foot is one of the most common infections, but hardly anyone talks about it. Typical signs include reddened and scaly skin. But only if athlete’s foot is treated early can you prevent the infection from spreading to the nails and causing nail fungus (onychomycosis). Find out here what types of athlete’s foot there are and how you can recognize and treat athlete’s foot.

Different forms of athlete’s foot

Depending on where the symptoms occur and how the athlete’s foot manifests itself, there are three types of fungal infection on the foot:

  • Interdigital form: In the most common form, there is redness and itching in the space between the toes. As the infection progresses, the skin begins to flake, resulting in deep, painful skin cracks. In addition, small blisters often form on the sides of the toes.
  • Squamous-hyperkeratotic form: Starting on the soles of the feet, this form of athlete’s foot spreads to the sides and back of the foot. It often occurs in people with diabetes mellitus. Initially, the skin on the feet is inflamed and flaky skin appears. If left untreated, the skin becomes very calloused and tears open.
  • Vesicular-dyshidrotic form:  The rare form presents with blisters on the sides of the feet and the soles. Due to the thick horny layer, the blisters only dry up instead of bursting open. This typically manifests itself in a feeling of tension and severe itching.

A characteristic symptom of an athlete’s foot is sometimes excruciating itching. Many sufferers notice from the pronounced itching in the space between the toes that they suffer from athlete’s foot.

Recognize athlete’s foot: scaly skin.

In principle, skin fungi can settle anywhere on foot, but the pathogens usually initially attack the spaces between the toes. These are warmer and moister than the rest of the skin on the foot and thus offer the fungus ideal growth conditions. The outer spaces are particularly often affected, and if left untreated, the athlete’s foot slowly spreads over the entire foot.

The infestation of an athlete’s foot usually only becomes visible when you spread your toes or pull them apart with your fingers.

Detect athlete’s foot: skin cracks.

Deep skin cracks often form from the scales if the athlete’s foot is not recognized and treated. They are often very painful and can even bleed. Since the pathogens have already penetrated the deeper layers of the skin at this stage, treatment is more complex and takes longer.

Recognize athlete’s foot: heavily calloused skin.

Occasionally, an athlete’s foot can become noticeable through severe callus formation on the sole. In most cases, small blisters also form, which dry out over time. Both lead to severe itching.

Athlete’s foot and nail fungus

If an athlete’s foot is not treated, nail fungus can also develop: the pathogens affect the skin on the feet and the nails on the toes. This usually manifests in discolouration of the toenails, chipping nails or grooves.

Treat athlete’s foot.

To successfully treat athletes’ feet, locally influential antimycotics are used with the active ingredients bifonazole, clotrimazole, and miconazole. These antifungal agents are available as special sprays, creams, powders, gels and solutions. Special varnishes against the nail fungus are also suitable if the toenails are also affected.

In severe cases of athlete’s foot, systemic therapy is used. However, tablets or capsules with active ingredients against the skin fungi must not be taken during pregnancy.

Those affected should continue the treatment for three to four weeks after the symptoms have subsided. This is the only way to prevent fungal spores from surviving and spreading again after discontinued medication.

Home remedies for athlete’s foot?

In addition to treatment with antimycotics, there is always a discussion about whether home remedies can treat an athlete’s foot. Since athlete’s foot spreads untreated and, in the worst case, penetrates the deeper layers of skin and the toenails, those affected should consult a doctor at an early stage.

Home remedies such as tea tree oil, vinegar or garlic can sometimes alleviate the symptoms. Still, they cannot do much against the pathogens because these home remedies have no fungicidal effect.

In addition to the antifungal treatment, anti-inflammatory foot baths can be made with oak bark. Those affected should also disinfect their shoes and wear cotton socks. In the event of an infestation with athlete’s foot, these should be changed daily and washed at least 60 °C.

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