Athlete's Foot - Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, DPM

Athlete’s Foot

It usually starts between the toes. Then it expands, constantly reminds you it’s there. 

  • An itching, burning rash
  • Dry, scaly skin (although sometimes it can look rather moist).
  • Tiny blisters.
  • Stinging pain

If these symptoms feel familiar, there is a good chance you have athlete’s foot – which also means there’s a fungus to get rid of. If you have been suffering from a severe or lasting case of this skin condition, do not hesitate to contact us for help! 

But back to that fungus…

What is Athlete’s Foot?

The source of athlete’s foot (aka tinea pedis) is a fungus. 

Unfortunately, fungi are not uncommon visitors to our feet. Fungal toenails are caused by the same type of fungus, and it is very possible for a fungal infection in the toenails to hop onto the skin and cause athlete’s foot (or vice versa). 

Why are our feet so prone to fungal invasion? Because fungus loves environments that are warm, damp, and dim. A sweaty foot in a shoe is like heaven to them! You might pick up the fungus somewhere like a gym, locker room, or public pool, then you give it a good home to expand within.

We talk about the nature of fungus and who’s most at risk of it in our video below.

Essentially, though, people at higher risk for athlete’s foot are those who create the environments fungi love and are less capable of fighting it via their immune systems.

As you might expect, this tends to skew the patient demographics toward children and teens whose feet frequently perspire, as well as older folks whose toes tend to be more compressed together, providing havens of moisture and dead skin buildup for fungus to feast upon.

(We should have warned you that you might never want mushrooms on your pizza again after this.)

Anyone, however, can get athlete’s foot – and if you do get it, you want to be rid of it as soon as possible!

Treating Athlete’s Foot

In many cases, the first course of action people will consider for their athlete’s foot is home treatment. Perhaps they’ll try some of that stuff John Madden used to go “BOOM!” about.

And that can be a reasonable course of action. Athlete’s foot fungus often can be treated at home, especially if it is a mild case. There are a couple caveats you should keep in mind, though.

You Are Not Immune from Reinfection

First, if you do manage to get rid of your case of athlete’s foot at home, that’s great! However, it does not mean you are immune from re-infection. 

In some cases, you may have eradicated the fungus on your skin, but fungus that is still hiding in your shoes can cause a new infection. Make sure you treat your shoes with anti-fungal powder and plenty of sunlight. (Alternatively, just throwing your old shoes out and getting new ones is a good choice, too).

However, If your case has been longer-lasting (more than 3-4 weeks), it may be that only the fungus at the surface has been taken care of, and there is still an underlying colony deeper in your skin that can flare up in the future. 

Chronic cases such as these tend to have more of a “moccasin-like” appearance on the skin, and the symptoms are more low-grade and tolerable over time. However, they tend to flare up again in the spring and fall.

Reach Out to Us if Things are NOT Mild

A case of athlete’s foot is more than capable of causing problems best left to a professional. Acute cases can weaken the skin and make it more prone to bacterial infection, and sometimes the fungus attacking your feet is just a particularly stubborn strain that won’t respond very well to over-the-counter treatments.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime you have concerns about your athlete’s foot, no matter how mild it might appear! But you should especially reach out to us if:

  • You are in a great deal of pain. 
  • You suspect a bacterial infection (signs can include pus/drainage, severe pain, swelling, and radiating red streaks from the area).
  • You have tried home treatment but not seen any improvement after a couple days.

If your athlete’s foot is not responding well to standard treatment, we may need to send a culture of it to a lab for identification. Sometimes a fungal infection is actually the fault of a yeast, but other times it can be an entirely different problem altogether, such as psoriasis. Properly identifying the problem will let us know the best course of action to take for treatment.

We have prescription-strength anti-fungal medications for use when needed. Most are topical ointments, but an oral medication might sometimes be recommended. We can also recommend effective treatments for any infected shoes you might have.

Your Tough-Actin’ Podiatrist

He does not actually act all that tough, honestly, but he’s committed to finding the best solutions to his patients’ foot and ankle problems!

Whether you have athlete’s foot, mycotic nails, or other conditions of the skin and nails, we’re here to help. Call our Indianapolis office at (317) 545-0505 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with us.

a person with a athlete's foot infection