An athlete’s foot, called tinea pedis, is a contagious skin infection that’s very common in the United States, with an average of three million new cases reported to a foot doctor every year. It spreads easily in damp conditions like locker rooms, thus the name “athlete’s foot.” The athlete’s foot is typically visible as circular white scales on the bottom of the foot and wet skin between the toes. Many people attempt to treat athletes’ feet themselves, but our Podiatrists, top New York foot doctors, are recommended to ensure successful treatment.
Athlete’s foot derives from the very same fungus that causes jock itch and ringworm. This condition is caused by a fungus that favors warm and moist conditions such as those found in locker rooms, pools, and gyms. Even a tiny flake of infected skin that drops off someone’s foot can spread to you. A leading podiatrist in NYC recommends wearing shoes in all public places. The disease spreads quickly by:
- Direct skin-to-skin contact;
- Contact with the fungus on a damp floor;
- Using a person’s towel who has the infection;
- Sharing shoes;
- Sweaty feet that come into contact with the germs.
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Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms patients report to their podiatry doctor include:
- Dry, scaly skin, often between your toes;
- Burning and itching sensations;
- Peeling skin;
- Swelling and inflammation;
- Cracked skin;
- Itching that worsens when you take off your socks;
- Rash that won’t respond to self-care;
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult with a foot doctor as other health professionals commonly misdiagnose an athlete’s foot. This is because several conditions have similar symptoms, including:
- Allergic reactions;
- Dry skin.
If you are not treated by a qualified professional such as an NYC podiatrist, you are at risk for more serious complications such as:
- Bacterial infection;
- Spreading infection to others;
- Infection causing loss of foot in immunocompromised individuals such as those with diabetes;
- Toenail problems. If the fungus gets underneath your toenails, it can cause them to get discolored, crumbly, and broken. The nail bed also can become inflamed and swollen, causing significant pain;
- Blood infection – The infection can spread to your blood and lead to organ shut down;
- Jock itch.
Foot doctor and leading podiatrist in NYC typically sees the condition in:
- People who walk barefoot in public places;
- Athletes who share shower stalls and changing areas;
- Those who wear tight socks and shoes for long hours;
- People who share shoes or clothes;
- Those who share towels and linens;
Diagnosis and Treatment
For a mild case of athlete’s foot, your podiatrist may encourage you to use a topical treatment such as a prescription cream. Antifungal pills designed to treat the infection are effective for more severe cases. A podiatrist can often tell that you have developed an athlete’s foot just by examining the appearance of your foot. Remember to tell your foot specialist about any instances where you may have been exposed to the fungus. With examination and knowledge of your recent history, your foot specialist should be able to tell you what treatment protocol you need. Your podiatry doctor may take small scrapings of skin from your infected area to send to a laboratory for testing to confirm the diagnosis.
Several measures can reduce the risk of athletes’ feet. Your New York podiatrist recommends:
- Cleanliness: Change your socks regularly — twice a day if your feet sweat profusely.
- Protection: Cover your feet in public; use shower slippers or waterproof shoes at public pools, showers, and locker rooms at all times.
- Dryness: Dry your feet thoroughly. Foot doctors say this is the one step that many people forget. Take the time to dry between your toes after bathing.
- Ventilation: Wear shoes that are well ventilated. Stay away from shoes that are are rubber and vinyl — they don’t breathe.
- Powder: Apply anti-fungal powder to your feet, especially if you’re susceptible to foot problems.
- Variety: Alternate your shoes; don’t wear the same shoes every day, especially for athletic events.
- Sharing: Avoid sharing shoes or socks with anyone, whether you know them or not; sometimes, people don’t even know when they have the early signs of an athlete’s foot.
- Sterilize: Use a shoe sterilizer like Lysol if you spend a lot of time in locker rooms.
- Regular checkups: Visit a podiatrist in NYC regularly if you tend to get an athlete’s foot so that they can catch it in the earliest stages when it’s easier to treat.
All symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by your podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to exclude any underlying serious condition.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a foot doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced podiatrist or foot specialist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Athlete’s Foot prevention or treatment? Would you like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, top NYC Podiatrist and foot doctor? Please contact our Manhattan podiatry practice for a consultation.
(212) 389-1886 Manhattan Foot Specialists (Midtown) 51 East 25th Street, Ste 451, NY 10010
(212) 389-9918 Manhattan Foot Specialists (Union Square) 55 W 17th St Ste 106, NY 10011