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Prairie Path Foot & Ankle Clinic

Myths and truths about Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot is a common skin problem affecting the feet.  It is caused by a fungus, referred to as tinea pedis.  It often appears on the bottom of the feet or between the toes as flaking, peeling skin.  Sometimes, it may appear between the toes and is often accompanied by itchiness or redness.  There are many different myths behind this common skin infection. The most common myths are:

Only athletes are prone to get athlete's foot -this is definitely a myth.  It is referred to as athlete's foot because it does occur in people with sweaty feet, such as athletes.  The fungus that causes athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, thrives in places that are dark, damp, and enclosed such as an athletic shoe.  But any shoes or socks belonging to anyone whose feet tend to sweat and retain moisture can harbor this fungus, not just athletes.  

It is not contagious - This is not true! The fungus lives on surface areas such as gym locker floors or the side of a pool, or anywhere that remains damp at all times.  If you go barefoot on any of these surfaces, the fungus may infect your foot.

Athletes foot will go away on its own - It won't.  The sooner you seek treatment for this condition, the sooner it will get better.  If not treated, the symptoms of itchiness, redness, and flaking skin can get worse.  It can spread to between the toes and to the other foot, and even to other parts of the body.  

The more you shower, the faster it will go away - This is also false.  It really has nothing to do with hygiene.  In fact, if your feet are wet most of the time, this will actually allow the fungus to thrive. 

If I treat it once, it will go away forever - Not forever!  There is something about the environment of your feet that attracted the fungus in the first place, and even if you treat athlete's foot, you must work to maintain and environment that discourages its return. That includes treating not only your skin, but also controling the environment of your shoes as well.

Now for some truths... it is true that once you get attention to treat the condition, you can get relief from the itchiness and discomfort.  It is important to have the skin condition diagnosed by your podiatrist and to rule out any other skin condition.  Once it is diagnosed, your podiatrist will offer topical medications and other products to help improve the environment of your shoes and thus prevent the recurrence of the fungus.  The podiatrists at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle can also make recommendations as the type of socks to use as well.  So give us a call and we can start your treatment plan right away.