Several people are affected by fungal foot infections every year. The most common type is the Athlete’s Foot, which you’ve probably already heard of. But beyond being aware of the condition and that it’s probably quite unpleasant, how much do you really know about it really is, and what problems it can cause to the feet?
Infections such as Athlete’s Foot (medically referred to as ‘Tinea Pedis’) are essentially a part of the broad range of fungal infections affecting the feet. The condition is caused by a group of fungi that are already present on the skin of the feet. These fungi are known as dermatophytes, which feed off dead skin tissue. There may be times when these fungi are suddenly activated, and they abruptly and rapidly begin to multiply. This results in an itchy red rash that soon turns scaly and flaky. Since the human feet provide a warm, humid and dark environment (since they are encased in shoes for the better part of the day, and because the skin between the toes remains closed off from air), they are the perfect breeding and living place for the fungi to thrive.
Knowing the Causes
The causes of these infections can vary, but some of the most common causes are:
Leaving the skin of your feet damp after your shower is the first cardinal mistake. You might inadvertently wear your shoes and/or socks while your feet are still damp, and this creates a moist and warm environment for the bacteria and fungi to thrive.
Coming into Contact
Although the fungi and bacteria are pretty much always present on the skin, they can sometimes abruptly multiply and increase their numbers manifold. At this point, they can spread via contact with infected skin, so avoid sharing towels, socks or shoes with anybody.
Continuing with the previous point, it pays to make sure that you don’t put yourself in a position where you could contract an infection by being exposed to the fungus. Places with the highest likelihood of spread are public showers and swimming pools. Be sure to always wear flip flops, or shower shoes, when you use these areas.
One of the many side effects of being overweight is an increase in perspiration from the sweat glands, and this includes the sweat glands in your feet. Excessive sweating encourages a growth in foot bacteria and fungi. So even if you are slightly overweight, it helps to shed the excess flab so that you don’t put yourself at risk of Athlete’s Foot.
Weakened Immune System
You don’t get Athlete’s Foot or other fungal infections all the time because your body is actively fighting off these infections. But there’s a problem when your immune system is weakened or if your health is poorly owing to the flu or common cold. In this case, your body has weakened and cannot fight against growing fungal infections, with the result that the infection takes hold and settles. So make sure to keep fit and healthy as much as you can, to be able to stave off these infections.
Treatments for fungal infections of the feet are widely available, and they usually involve medicines or antifungal powders that you can apply directly onto the affected area.
So start by drying your feet thoroughly after a shower, use your own towels and have at least three different pairs of shoes, so that you can alternate between them.