Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is the term used to describe a fungal infection of the skin on the foot. The fungus feeds off keratin, that is the protein found in the outer layer of skin. The infected skin can present as dry and itchy, but can also weep and be painful if deeper layers of skin become exposed. Sometimes, as the fungus spreads outwards away from its point of initial infection, it creates an expanding line of inflammation which appears as red ring. This appearance gives rise to its other name, ring worm.
The offending fungus thrives in a humid, warm and dark environment away from sunlight. Hence, what better place to set up home than on the foot where footwear provides the perfect conditions. The foot also has lots of nice crevices, like between the toes, which can provide optimal conditions regardless of footwear. And if you think about it, you’ll be able to come up with lots of similar hiding places around the body that would make the fungus feel welcome. So, a word of warning, use a separate towel to dry an infected area and don’t risk spreading it to other parts of the body.
Over-the-counter fungal treatments are usually quite effective against athlete’s foot. However, a podiatrist will be able to advise you on the best one to use depending on the location and severity of infection. Moreover, a podiatrist will be able to determine the factors that have predisposed a foot to the fungal infection and initiate steps to prevent its recurrence.