When I was in college I ran 12 miles a day. This was Boulder, Colorado so summer days always had about an hour of rain at 4pm and then everything would cool off. I enjoy running in the rain so scheduled my runs during this little drizzle. After a month of wonderful, calming runs I developed itching between my toes and a red rash with cracking skin in the crease under my little toes. The burning from the cracked skin was intense at times and the itching nearly drove me insane. Have you ever seen this before?
Athlete’s foot is an infection of the skin caused by fungus. Besides redness, itching, burning, and cracking skin, as I experienced, there can be blisters and oozing. If left untreated the infection worsens. The toenails can become infected causing thick and discolored toenails, but that’s a topic for another day. The fungus can decrease your skin’s defenses leading to infection with bacteria noticed by swelling, redness, and more severe pain.
Treatment of fungus begins by removing the source of the infection. Fungus grows in dark, moist places. Can you figure out what I was doing wrong? In my case I was wearing wet shoes everyday to run. Shoes take 24 hours to dry so alternate your shoes everyday. That means don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Always wear clean and dry socks, wash your feet thoroughly and make sure you dry between your toes.
Other treatments for fungus are readily available at your store. Medications are usually creams, powders, sprays, gels, or solutions. The antifungal medicine needs to be applied twice each day for about one week. Beware of using creams. If the infection is mostly between your toes creams might keep the area too moist and fail to kill the fungus. Try powders, sprays, or solution between the toes. If you don’t improve after a week you need to see a physician.
Do you have young boys with stinky feet? Look more closely at their feet. Many times a parent brings in a young teen with redness, blisters, scaling and cracking skin, and the overall complaint of “stinky feet”. Dr. Geller has treated many children with pills to kill the fungus infection besides using creams or powders, clean dry socks, and changing shoes. Some people think treating fungus with oral medicine causes liver damage. They are referring to older medicines not used today. The newer pills to treat fungus are safe if prescribed by an experienced physician. Dr. Geller used pills to treat a fungus infection in his son.
Do not delay treatment of athlete’s foot. Bacterial infections are much more painful and challenging to treat. The earlier you are seen the easier the treatment.
Dr. Stephen Geller, AZ Podiatrist