Athlete's foot, caused by the fungus Tinea pedis, is that reddish, crackled, flaky skin seen usually between the toes. It thrives in warm, moist places and is contagious. It can be contracted through contact with infected skin particles at home in the bathroom or in public places like locker rooms, showers or around public swimming pools.
Incidence; Causes and Development; Contributing Risk FactorsAthlete's foot
is most common in men from the teenage years to the early 50s.
It is a common, persistent infection of the foot caused by a dermatophyte – a microscopic fungus that lives on dead tissue of the hair, toenails and outer skin layers. These fungi thrive in warm, moist environments such as shoes, stockings, and the floors of public showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools. Athlete's foot
is transmitted through contact with a cut or abrasion on the bottom surface of the foot. In rare cases, the fungus is transmitted from infected animals to humans. There are at least four dermatophytes that can cause tineas
pedis. The most common is Trichophyton rubrum
Prevalence is affected by personal hygiene and daily activity. People with compromised immune systems are at greater risk.
Signs and Symptoms
There are four common forms of athlete's foot
. The most common is an annoying, persistent itching of the skin on the sole of the foot or between the toes (often the fourth and fifth toes). As the infection progresses, the skin grows soft. The center of the infection is inflamed
and sensitive to the touch. Gradually, the edges of the infected area become milky white and the skin begins to peel. There may also be a slight watery discharge
In the ulcerative type, the peeling skin becomes worse. Large cracks develop in the skin, making the patient susceptible to secondary bacterial
infections. The infection can be transmitted to other parts of the body by scratching, or contamination of clothing or bedding.
The third type of tinea infection is often called "moccasin foot." In this type, a red rash
spreads across the lower portion of the foot in the pattern of a moccasin. The skin in this region gradually becomes dense, white, and scaly.
The fourth form of tinea pedis
or vesicular, in which a series of raised bumps or ridges develops under the skin on the bottom of the foot, typically in the region of the metatarsal heads. Itching is intense and there is less peeling of the skin.
People with acute tinea infections may develop similar outbreaks on their hands, typically on the palms. This trichophyde reaction, also known as tineas manuum
, is an immune system response to fungal antigens
that fight the fungal infection).
Treatment and PreventionAntifungal
drugs may be used to fight the infection.Natural remedies not mentioned elsewhere
Soak your feet in a basin of warm water to which you have added some rubbing alcohol and several cloves of peeled, crushed garlic.
Goldenseal/thyme. Make an herbal tea foot bath of goldenseal and thyme, or a half and half mixture of thyme and chamomile teas. Soak once a day.
Molkosan, a product derived from concentrated whey, the by-product of cheese manufacture, has been used effectively against fungal infections. The suggested use is to soak an absorbent cotton pad or cloth in Molkosan, attach it to the affected area, and leave it on overnight. Also recommended is an African plant remedy, Spilanthes, alternated with Molkosan. Bioforce Cream is recommended for use during the day. The good results may be from the lactic acid and lactic enzymes.
Undesine ointment. Apply this ointment daily. You can usually find it wherever herbs and natural remedies are sold.
Tinea infections may disappear spontaneously or persist for years. They are difficult to eliminate and often recur. Best results usually are obtained with early treatment before the fungal infection establishes itself firmly.