Symptoms - infuriatingly itchy - you just can't help yourself, you have to scratch it. The trouble is, scratching just spreads the infection. The skin between the toes develops a rash that becomes hot and itchy. The skin often develops painful cracks. Along with the red rash you will often see white, flaking skin. These flakes of infected skin may fall off, causing the infection to spread to other areas or even other people who then come into contact with these flakes - either in communal showering/changing areas or at home. Rarely, the infection causes a scaling rash on the entire sole and side of the foot which looks like you are wearing a bright red moccasin. This is known, unsuprisingly, as a moccasin infection.
It just affects athletes, right?
Wrong. Anyone can get athletes foot and it can be easily passed from person to person. While the infection itself isn't usually serious, it's a good idea to treat it before
it spreads. This infection thrives in dark, warm, damp, airless parts of the body so can spread to areas such as the palm, groin and genitalia. Other, more serious infections can also use the
route of entry created by the cracks from athletes foot. This means that an untreated bout of athletes foot can lead to much more serious infections of the foot or leg.
Not all treatments are suitable for everyone. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or are on other medication you may not be able to use certain types of treatment. Check with your pharmacist if you come into one of these groups.
Usually we will recommend a dual treatment of anti-fungal medication which will clear the infection quite quickly. After the rash has gone and the feet feel normal, you should continue to treat the area for at least two more weeks to ensure that the foot is completely clear of infection. Ask your podiatrist about ways to make life difficult for the infection such as treating your footwear with anti-fungal spray and changing you hosiery and shoes regularly.
If your feet are especially moist, and susceptible to recurring infections then you may also need to use an additional treatment which is aimed at reducing the moisture produced by the foot.
The fungus that cause these infections just love moisture and making the foot dryer means far less frequent infections.
You can play sports and shower as normal. However, try to keep your feet covered in communal changing areas until the rash is gone.