Seunga (Jasmine) Han, PharmD Student
Did you know that anyone can get athlete’s foot – not just athletes? Up to 70% of Canadians acquire athlete’s foot at one point in their lives, and it’s especially common in teenagers and adult males. Despite its common occurrence, not everyone who has athlete’s foot realizes it. It’s important to understand what athlete’s foot is and what can be done to prevent it in the first place.
What is athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin on the feet that may present with itch, redness and skin peeling. Athlete’s foot is transmitted either directly via contact with an infected person, or indirectly through contact with contaminated surfaces.
Some of the risk factors for acquiring athlete’s foot include:
- Excessive sweating
- Warm, dark, poorly ventilated environments, and moisture between the toes
- Medical conditions like diabetes, immunosuppression, peripheral vascular disease, and obesity
- Poor hygiene
How to prevent athlete’s foot?
It’s important to take appropriate steps to prevent athlete’s foot as it can spread to other parts of the body, usually the groin or underarms.
The following are some of the things you can do:
- Wash feet with soap and water every day
- Dry feet thoroughly
- Change socks daily
- Wear socks made of natural, absorbent materials or synthetic blends such as acrylic, cotton, polypropylene, wool
- Avoid tight-fitting footwear
- Allow shoes to dry completely before wearing
- Do not go barefoot in public places
- Do not share personal items such as towels
How do I treat athlete’s foot?
When it comes to treating athlete’s foot, using a topical anti-fungal agent twice a day is considered the mainstay of therapy. Some of the topical anti-fungal agents include cicloprox 1%, clotrimazole 1%, ketoconazole 2%, miconazole 2%, and terbinafine 1%.
Typically, treatment lasts up to four weeks, including 1-2 weeks after the lesions have disappeared. It’s recommended that you continue the treatment after the lesion has cleared to prevent recurrences.
BUT, if signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot persist beyond 6 weeks, make sure to see a healthcare provider for further assessment.
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