Tinea pedis; Fungal infection – feet; Tinea of the foot; Infection – fungal – feet; Ringworm – foot
Definition of Athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot is an infection of the feet caused by fungus. The medical term is tinea pedis. Athlete’s foot may last for a short or long time and may come back after treatment.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body. Others may, under certain conditions, multiply rapidly and cause infections. Athlete’s foot occurs when a particular type of fungus grows and multiplies in your feet (especially between your toes) or, less commonly, your hands.
The most common symptom is cracked, flaking, peeling skin between the toes. The affected area is usually red and itchy. You may feel burning or stinging, and there may be blisters, oozing, or crusting. In addition to the toes, the symptoms can also occur on the heels, palms, and between the fingers.
Signs and tests
The diagnosis is based primarily on the appearance of your skin. If tests are performed, they may include:
Over-the-counter antifungal powders or creams can help control the infection. These generally contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate. Continue using the medicine for 1 – 2 weeks after the infection has cleared from your feet to prevent the infection from returning.
Athlete’s foot infections range from mild to severe and may last a short or long time. They may persist or recur, but they generally respond well to treatment. Long-term medication and preventive measures may be needed.
Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. – 6/10/2009