The medical term for a foot fungus or athlete’s foot is called tinea pedis which is caused by a fungus penetrating into the outer layer of the skin of the feet; This produces enzymes that affect keratin, the protein that gives skin structure, which causes an inflammatory response and scale. Just like all fungi, tinea pedis will develop in warm, moist and dark environments which is why fungal infections favor the feet, groin, armpits and other skinfold areas.
Certain individuals are more prone to developing tinea pedis such as people with suppressed immunity due to medical conditions or treatments, diabetics, wearing work boots, having a family history of tinea pedis and individuals that are often in moist or wet environments.
Tinea pedis can occur between the toes, on the bottoms or sides of feet and even all the way up to the ankle. If tinea pedis isn’t treated promptly, it can spread to other areas of the body such as the groin, hand and toe nails.
The most effective treatment to clear tinea pedis is an antifungal cream twice daily until the fungus has cleared and then for one additional week. If tinea pedis has spread to other areas of the body or includes the toe nails, an antifungal pill will be required to clear the fungi. Antifungal pills are hard on the liver, require routine labs and interact with other medications so they’re normally not a first line treatment.
One of the best ways to not be burdened by tinea pedis is to avoid getting a foot fungus in the first place. Keeping your feet and between your toes dry is one of the best ways to prevent tinea pedis. If you wear work boots, make sure to allow your feet to breathe or air out when possible. Make sure to dry your feet and between the toes after taking a bath or shower. Wear flip flops when at pools or in public showers. Don’t share your towels. If your feet sweat a lot, change socks frequently and use antifungal powders to try to keep the feet dry. Following these tips can reduce your risk of developing tinea pedis.