Athlete's foot (known medically as tinea pedis) is a common fungal infection of the foot. It affects mainly adolescent and adult males. The tinea fungus readily grows in moist, damp areas such as shower stalls and floors. Sweating and inadequate ventilation of the feet provide ideal conditions for growth of the fungus.
The fungus can affect the skin between the toes or on the soles or sides of the feet. The affected skin itches, peels, cracks, and forms scales or blisters. Athlete's foot also can affect the toenails, making them thicken, scale, and crumble. Fungal infections of the toenail can be very difficult to treat. Untreated athlete's foot can cause breaks in the skin, leading to a bacterial infection.
To diagnose athlete's foot, your doctor will examine the affected areas of your skin and may remove a small sample of skin to examine under a microscope. The doctor will prescribe an antifungal cream to be applied to your skin. If the athlete's foot is severe, he or she may prescribe oral antifungal medication. You will need to use all of the antifungal medication prescribed—even if your skin looks and feels better—to be sure that the infection has been completely eliminated.
To prevent athlete's foot, keep your feet as clean and as dry as possible. Follow these useful tips to help prevent athlete's foot:
• Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between your toes.
• Take your shoes off at home to expose your feet to the air.
• Wear sandals during the summer.
• Wear absorbent cotton socks and change them every day.
• Do not walk barefoot in locker rooms or at poolside. Wear thongs or reef shoes.
• Shake an antifungal powder into your shoes in hot weather.
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