If your feet itch, burn, or sting, you could have Athlete’s Foot, a common, contagious fungal infection. In spite of the name, you don’t have to be an athlete to develop this condition, which can cause constant itching and discomfort. Besides these symptoms, there are some other potential signs of Athlete’s Foot:
When your feet are itching and burning, you need an experienced foot and ankle specialist to help you feel better quickly. Dr. Elizabeth Auger, DPM, has treated foot and ankle issues for over 24 years in Sandy, Utah. After graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine (now Temple University), Dr. Auger completed a medical residency in Salt Lake City that included three years of comprehensive training in foot surgery and wound care. She then went into private practice in Sandy and is now a member of the College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, and Board Certified in Podiatric Medicine by the American Board of Lower Extremity Surgery.
Dr. Auger has treated many cases of Athlete’s Foot with varying degrees of severity, including in patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions. She understands the importance of establishing a firm diagnosis before beginning treatment and will give your symptoms the attention they deserve. Additionally, Dr. Auger will advise you on how to prevent future Athlete’s Foot infections and reduce the risk of spreading them.
Athlete’s Foot is caused by a fungus called dermatophytes. It spreads easily through towels, clothes, flooring, and sometimes other surfaces. Because fungi thrive in moist, warm environments, Athlete’s Foot is frequently found in locker rooms at gyms, saunas, or pools. These areas tend to be very humid, and even with good drainage and frequent cleaning, water often pools on the floor, creating an ideal place for fungi to grow. Ironically, doing healthy activities like going to the gym can put you at higher risk of catching Athlete’s Foot!
However, this infection is also common in people who wear tight-fitting shoes and experience frequent foot sweating. Again, the moist environment inside the shoe creates a good environment for fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot to thrive. You can also pick up the infection if you live or share towels or clothes with another person who has it.
You can reduce your risk by taking steps to avoid common sources of infection and making it harder for a fungus to live on your feet.
First, the doctor will examine your feet to be certain you have Athlete’s Foot. Sometimes only a visual examination is necessary, but in other situations, the podiatrist may scrape a small amount of skin from your foot and send it to a lab for testing.
In what’s called a “skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam,” the doctor will remove a small amount of infected skin and place it in a solution of potassium hydroxide. This chemical compound digests typical skin cells, leaving only fungal cells which can be seen and identified easily under a microscope. Your doctor will then be able to determine if you have Athlete’s Foot or a different, less common fungal infection. If no fungal cells are present, the podiatrist will consider other causes for your symptoms, such as allergic contact dermatitis. At this point, they may order additional tests, such as a “patch test” for common allergens.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, Athlete’s Foot is usually treated with a prescription antifungal cream or ointment. The foot specialist will instruct you on use, but typically you will apply the prescription a few times a day until the course is completed. If topical ointments don’t fully eliminate the infection or you have a particularly severe case, your doctor may instead prescribe an oral medication.
Some Athlete’s Foot ointments are sold over the counter, and this is often the first option people consider when their feet start to itch. But buying an over-the-counter remedy is not a good solution for several reasons:
Some people are embarrassed to admit they might have Athlete’s Foot, but there is no cause for concern. This condition is very common and easy to catch, and there is no reason you should continue to suffer.
Please contact our office today for a consultation about your foot irritation. Our attentive and helpful staff members will check the schedule and arrange an appointment as soon as possible – most of the time, we can even get you in on the same day. We’re also happy to answer questions about your insurance coverage or transfer records from your primary care physician. The sooner you contact us for an appointment, the sooner we can help you get the painful itching of Athlete’s Foot under control for good.