Health Focus Archive
What causes athlete's foot?
Athlete's foot is an infection caused by a fungus. It is not serious and can be cured using the effective treatments available today. The infection likes to live in warm, moist areas. Wearing shoes (especially training shoes) means that the feet are warm and sometimes sweaty. The infection can then take hold and start to grow, often between the fourth and fifth toes. The skin gets itchy and flaky and other areas, such as the skin between other toes, or the skin on the top of the foot, can also be affected.
Who gets Athlete's Foot?
Just about everybody! It has been estimated that 70% of people get it at some time in their lives. The name "athlete's foot" is misleading because plenty of people who are not athletes suffer from athlete's foot. Generally, more men than women are affected probably because men play more sport, although as women become more involved in fitness training and exercise, so more women are suffering. Another reason why people who play sport are more likely to suffer with the problem is because they often wear training shoes which make their feet get hot and sweaty. Also, the infection can easily be picked up by walking barefoot on changing room floors.
Other Useful Tips
- Athlete's foot responds very well to miconazole treatments e.g. Daktarin. Read the product pack and any information leaflet carefully.
- Wash and dry your feet thoroughly before applying the cream or ointment.
- When drying your feet make sure you dry between all of your toes. Apply the cream or ointment between all of your toes and rub it in gently.
- Keep on using the cream or ointment even after your feet seem to have got better. Most experts advise that an extra one to two weeks' treatment is needed to make sure the infection has gone completely. If you do not do this, it is quite possible that your athlete's foot may come back.
- Using a medicated dusting powder can be helpful if the feet are sweaty - check with your pharmacist which would be the best product to use.
How Quickly Will The Treatment Work?
- Wear rubber flip-flops or canvas shoes when walking on wet changing room floors or in communal shower areas.
- Wearing socks made from a natural fibre such as cotton helps to soak up perspiration and lets the feet "breathe". This can help to get rid of the infection more quickly. It is also important to change socks regularly, at least every day, and possibly more often in hot weather.
- Do not share towels.
- Wash socks, tights, etc at a high temperature so that fungal spores are killed.
- Dusting powders can also be used inside socks, tights and shoes - don't forget the gardening shoes
and the Wellingtons!
- Don't wear trainers or other shoes that do not let your feet breathe for any length of time and walk around barefoot as often as possible.
- Do not borrow shoes or share them with others.
- If you play sport and sweaty feet are a problem ask your pharmacist about special insoles for your trainers.
You should start to see an improvement quite quickly (within four or five days) and your symptoms will probably have cleared up within two weeks. But remember to keep on using the treatment for as long as your pharmacist has recommended you do so. That is the only way to be sure of getting rid of the infection totally.
When To Seek More Advice
The treatment recommended by your pharmacist should cure your athlete's foot. If you have used the treatment and there has been no improvement after two weeks, cheek with your pharmacist. Also, if you have any other queries about your treatment or about Foot Care in general, discuss them with your pharmacist.