Itchy Feet: Athlete’s Foot Could Be to Blame

Itchy Feet: Athlete’s Foot Could Be to Blame

Itchy feet can be very annoying and uncomfortable. And while dry skin is the culprit, it’s not the most common one. A fungal infection like athlete’s foot can usually be to blame. The good news? Athlete’s foot is not a serious condition. In most cases, it’s treated with an over-the-counter antifungal cream (like Fugacil). Here are a few important things about athlete’s foot- a common cause of itchy feet that you should know.

Causes of Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis is a fungal infection of the foot. It is caused by the tinea fungus which also produces ringworm and jock itch. This fungus thrives in moist, warm areas, such as showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools. It can also live in the human body and feed on keratin of the skin, hair and nails.

Athlete’s foot is contagious. It can be transmitted from human to human, object to human, and soil to human. You can pick up the fungus through direct contact with an infected person. Or, you touch an object or surface that carries the fungus, such as shoes, towels, and floors.

Athlete's foot is caused by the tinea fungus

Athlete’s foot is caused by the tinea fungus

Learn more: How Does Toenail Fungus Spread?

Risk Factors for Athlete’s Foot

Several factors can put you an increased risk of developing athlete’s foot. These are:

  • Being male. Athlete’s foot is more common in men than in women.
  • Wearing tight or wet shoes and damp socks. This creates a perfect environment for the fungus to grow.
  • Using the unwashed clothes, shoes or towels of an infected person.
  • Walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, communal showers and bathrooms.
  • Having sweaty feet.
  • Keeping your feet wet for too long.
  • Having a minor injury to the skin or nail on the foot.
Wearing tight shoes makes you more susceptible to athlete's foot

Wearing tight shoes makes you more susceptible to athlete’s foot

Learn more: Poor Personal Hygiene Linked to Fungal Infections

Signs and Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Itchy feet are one of the most common symptoms of athlete’s foot. Accompanied symptoms include:

  • Itching, stinging and burning between the toes or on the soles of the feet.
  • Blisters on the foot that cause itching and irritation.
  • Cracking and peeling skin on feet.
  • Dry skin on the soles or sides of the foot.
  • Rash or raw skin on the foot.
  • Toenails that are thick, discolored, crumbly, or loose.
  • Toenails that separate from the nail bed.

A doctor can diagnose athlete’s foot by looking at your symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis, they can recommend a skin lesion KOH exam. If you think you may have athlete’s foot, talk to your doctor.

Itchy feet- the most common symptom of athlete's foot

Itchy feet- the most common symptom of athlete’s foot

Learn more: Every Thing You Need to Know about Fungal Tests

Do’s and Don’ts for Treating Athlete’s Foot

  • DO keep your feet clean and dry
  • DO wash your feet regularly
  • DO use a separate towel to dry your feet
  • DO allow air to circulate your feet by taking off your shoes when you are at home
  • DO wear clean shoes and socks, and change them every day
  • DO use an over-the-counter antifungal medication or home remedy for athlete’s foot
  • DO see a podiatrist if your infection persists or gets worse

Fugacil is one of the most common OTC antifungal creams for athlete’s foot. It can help eliminate the fungus out of your skin, treat symptoms, and prevent recurrence. Many people use Fugacil and get rid of athlete’s foot in a few days. To treat itchy feet from athlete’s foot, you can also use a medicated foot powder or spray. It includes Desenex or Lotrimin.

Home remedies can also give you relief from athlete’s foot:

  • Garlic
  • Tea tree oil
  • Neem oil
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cornstarch
  • Apple cider vinegar

Here are a few things you shouldn’t do for athlete’s foot.

  • DON’T scratch your affected feet
  • DON’T walk barefoot in public areas
  • DON’T share socks, shoes and towels with others
  • DON’T wear shoes that are too tight or make your feet sweat
Going barefoot can put you at an increased risk of athlete's foot

Going barefoot can put you at an increased risk of athlete’s foot

Learn more: Top 7 Foods that Can Fight Infections Naturally

Tips for Preventing Athlete’s Foot

To keep your feet fungus free and avoid the infection, you should:

  • Trim your nails regularly to keep them short and clean
  • Wear sandals or flip-flops in public showers
  • Do not share personal items with others
  • Wash and thoroughly dry your feet every day
  • Change socks daily and shoes on every two days
  • Put antifungal powder on your feet and in your shoes every day

Other Causes of Itchy Feet

Many other health conditions can make your feet itch. These are:

If you have itchy feet, athlete’s foot could be to blame first. If your infection does not improve with treatment, see your doctor. You might have a medical condition that mimics athlete’s foot.

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