Causes and predisposing factors
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
More than an exclusive technical feature of the great sports champions (as the name itself might suggest), the Athlete’s foot is an unpleasant pitfall for the feet of all athletes. See also: stink feet.
The Athlete’s foot ( ringworm of the foot) is a contagious disease caused by a group of dermatophyte fungi. It belongs to the class of dermatomycosis or superficial mycoses that affect glabrous (hairless) skin.
As my name implies, mycosis of the foot frequently affects athletes, and especially those who attend public sports centres with hot and humid climates (swimming pools, gyms, showers, etc.).
In fact, the transmission of the disease occurs by contact thanks to small fragments of skin that detach from the patient and disperse into the environment. This contagion can be direct but also indirect, for example, through contact with showers, platforms, floors, or other objects used by people affected by mycosis.
The Athlete’s foot is a pathology spread all over the world and is more frequently found in adults, the elderly, and male subjects.
Athlete’s foot Causes and predisposing factors
Athlete’s foot is more likely to affect debilitated individuals whose immune defences are unprepared to counteract the infection. Some pathologies such as AIDS, diabetes, circulatory dysfunction, and dermatitis can also favour the onset of the disease.
Alongside these endogenous factors are added other exogenous or external ones, that are linked to environmental conditions. The microorganisms that cause Athlete’s foot to proliferate in hot and humid environments nesting in closed places such as sports shoes. For this reason, the risk of infection increases considerably if one or more of the following risk factors are present:
The weakening of the immune defences
Genetic factors (there is probably a genetic predisposition of the subject to the infection)
Moisture build-up (wet socks or shoes)
The habit of walking barefoot in public places
Summer season and hot-humid environments
Inadequate footwear and hosiery (non-breathable synthetic materials)
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Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
The symptoms of Athlete’s foot are manifold. In the initial stages, the infection affects the area between the toes (generally between the third and fourth toes or between the fourth and fifth toes). It can subsequently extend to the plant to the back and to the nails with a tendency to chronicity. Favoured by the heat and humidity resulting from excessive sweating, the microorganisms responsible for the infection undermine the superficial layers of the epidermis, giving rise to the characteristic symptoms of the pathology:
Erythema, red and itchy skin
skin peeling, especially between the toes and the sole of the foot
formation of blisters with aqueous content most frequently localized on the bottom of the foot and on the lateral edges of the toes
the appearance of skin cracks
more or less intense itching
thicker nails with a twisted appearance and with a tendency to weaken until they tear and lose their natural colouring
If the pathology is not treated, bacterial cuts and superinfections can form. In fact, these microorganisms feed on keratin, a substance that covers and protects not only the skin but also nails and hair. By attacking the keratin that makes up the horny layer (outer) of the skin, the fungi responsible for the Athlete’s foot, therefore, open the way for other microorganisms causing states of deep infection.
Since reinfections are possible after the cure of the disease, it is a good rule that the primary prevention rules that we will see become part of the regular hygiene habits of the subject.
- Use breathable and light-coloured footwear (breathable upper)
- Daily hygiene of the feet taking care to dry the interdigital spaces thoroughly and to remove any macerated layers
- Replace your socks regularly and wash them in hot water
- Allow the shoes to dry after use.
- Use natural fabric socks (cotton, thread, etc.)
- Apply antifungal creams to the foot, socks, and shoe
- Do not walk barefoot or use other people’s shoes.
- Avoid tight shoes
- Carefully disinfect the floors if you own a public sports centre.
- Always use slippers or sandals in bathrooms, changing rooms, or public showers.
- If you are affected by mycosis, you should avoid going to public swimming pools in order not to transmit the infection to other individuals.
|severe Athlete’s foot|
Athlete’s foot Medicines to treat Ringworm of the Foot
To heal an athlete’s foot, there are specific treatments based on drugs antifungals both for topical use (ointments, sprays, powders, ointments, etc.), and systemic (by mouth).
The former, with rare exceptions, can be purchased without a prescription and are indicated in case of superficial infections without complications.
If this treatment fails, relapses occur, or the infection is particularly extensive, we proceed to the oral surgery, certainly more effective (healing within one / two weeks) but not without side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and headache.
Even topical treatments can, in some cases, cause local irritations and hypersensitivity reactions towards their components. When using these products, it is good to respect some rules to promote healing:
wash carefully and dry the area to be treated
prefer creams in case of macerated skin by applying small quantities until complete absorption of the drug
to avoid recurrence, especially in case of symptoms reappearance, it is good to use antifungal powders to shoes and socks.
|Disease of Foot|
Avoid scratching the affected area excessively as this could delay healing
topical therapy requires quite long healing times (even a few months), and it is good to prolong the treatment for at least a week after complete recovery
Seek advice from your primary care physician or pharmacist before making hasty diagnoses
In any case, if the symptoms do not subside after a couple of weeks of topical treatment, it is good to seek medical attention, both to confirm the diagnosis and to avoid the prolongation of the medications that are necessary with topical remedies.
Finally, among the natural remedies, we mention thyme, lavender, propolis, and echinacea, which contain precious active principles with antiseptic, disinfectant, and purifying action.
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