What is athlete's foot?Referred to as athlete's foot, an infection that affects the feet and is usually localized in the interdigital folds, plant and at the edges of them. Despite its name, does not only affect the athletes, and is also known as ringworm of the foot (Tinea pedis )).
This infection is very common worldwide, although people living in humid, hot climates that favor the colonization of fungi, are more likely to get it. Cases can be found both in men and in women of any age, although there is a higher proportion of infections in young men.
It is transmitted directly from person to person, and also via objects contaminated with fungus, like pool or shower.
Causes of athlete's footIn 98% of cases the athlete's foot is produced by fungal dermatophytes. This type of infections where the infectious agent is a fungus called Mycosis. In the other cases it is the action of yeasts such as candida or bacteria.
These fungi infect tissues that are keratinized and proliferate in hot and humid environments. Therefore wear shoes closed, particularly if sudan the patient much feet, favours conditions of heat and humidity that fungi reproduce. It is a contagious infection, the risk of transmission is increased by using public swimming pools and gyms without taking proper precautions.
Symptoms of athlete's footSome patients may remain asymptomatic, and present only smelly because of infection, although in others that there are symptoms of athlete's foot.
They can be classified, therefore, different forms of foot of athlete, with their respective symptoms:
· Chronic form: there is a reddening of the foot and constant itching, especially at night. It is the most common form.
· Form Hyperkeratotic: in this State usually appear cracks, blisters and scales in the area that is infected, as well as hiperqueratinosis, which consists of the outer layer of skin will render.
· Medium bladder shape: skin presents a series of vesicles that should not be exploited.
· Ulcerative form: once this State is reached, there is a high probability that athlete's foot is associated with secondary bacterial infection, which can be treated with antibiotics. Interdigital, especially in patients with a weakened immune system and ulcers in diabetics can be observed.
In those patients who have a poor circulation infection can complicate, even having to amputate the foot. This can happen to diabetic patients, for example.
Athlete's foot can also affect the hands or fingernails, making these present a bad appearance: colorless, thickened and even demolished.
Diagnosis of athlete's footIt is important to correctly diagnose the infection, since the same symptoms may correspond to another condition, and an inappropriate diagnosis would follow a wrong treatment, which not only would not solve the problem but may even make worse it.
To determine the diagnosis of athlete's foot, therefore, a series of tests should be performed:
· Clinical history.
· Visual examination of the affected area.
· Direct examination from a sample collected by scraping the area to see the presence/absence of hyphae (are a part of the fungus).
· Microbiological culture to the infectious agent.
It is possible to be diagnosed as Mycosis as psoriasis alba-like infection, since it also affects the skin, particularly the interdigital toe, but in this case the cause is autoimmune origin.
Athlete's foot treatmentThe first time that this infection is present is usually use an antifungal topical, either in powder or cream. Typically, these medications contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate, and treatment should continue one or two weeks after the disappearance of the infection, to prevent relapses. In 65% of cases the infection does not disappear completely, going back to appear in less than two years. These relapses are also used antifungal drug, but in this case orally.
Sometimes, in addition to the infection caused by fungi, there is a secondary infection by bacteria and antibiotics should be administered to treat it.
Soaps with Selenium sulfate can be applied to clean feet, although this is not recommended if you have foot wounds.
Moreover, it is necessary to pay close attention to personal care to not to favour the proliferation of fungi, since some actions may be considered as risk factors, and facilitate the extension and prolongation of the infection, such as:
· Use a closed shoes, especially those that are coated with plastic.
· Stay with wet feet for long periods of time.
· That your feet sweat abundantly.
· In cases in which the affected foot present injury on the skin or nail.
It is important to follow the treatment thoroughly, applying the necessary doses daily, as well as extend it the time stipulated by the doctor, although to the naked eye infection is not already observed. In addition, is usually applied in both feet, since although the symptoms have manifested only in one it is very likely that the other also is infected.
Athlete's foot usually has a favorable prognosis, although you can find a wide range of injuries, from mild to severe. This implies that the infection can last a short or long time, enough to expand treatment in some cases.
Prevention of athlete's footA series of measures, which aims to prevent contagion, reproduction and spread of these infectious agents should be followed:
· Be careful when it comes to dried feet and not to leave them wet or damp, checking that the skin between the toes is well dry after bathing.
· Use flip-flops in public swimming pools, bathrooms, showers, gym and, in general, any public surface.
· Moving from socks even more than once a day, to make sure that your feet are kept dry.
· Change shoes often to avoid that stays wet and can be a source of infections.
· Wear shoes made of natural materials such as leather, and allowing good breathability. Avoid shoes with plastic cladding.
In those who may be prone to this kind of infection is recommended the use of antifungal powders or dry for extra security of your feet. It is important to highlight that people with a suppressed immune system are more susceptible to infection, so it is convenient that using these powders if you will be frequently exposed to contact with areas where it is easier to develop fungi, like public baths.
Patients with athlete's foot should take precautions to avoid feet to touch objects or soil that is then going to be played/walked on by other people to prevent transmission of the infection.