Athlete’s Foot is also known as tinea pedis in medical terms. It is an infection of the feet caused by fungus. This infection may last for a short or long time. In some cases the infection may come back after treatment. It is generally a harmless foot infection.
The fungi that cause the infection of the feet are called as dermatophytes. These fungi invade the “dead” outer layers of the skin. This fungus thrives and multiplies in a warm and moist environment. Athletes exercise vigorously and indulge in rigorous sports and physical activities. As a result of this, they tend to perspire excessively. When they wear poorly ventilated shoes and socks, it only makes the perspiration worse. Due to the dampness and sweating of the soles and the feet the dermatophytes get an open breeding ground. Due to the favorable conditions these dermatophytes breed well and multiply and cause infection of the feet. This condition is known as athlete’s foot.
Another reason for the damp environment is the contact with shower rooms, swimming pools and locker room floors. The damp and warm environment harbors the fungi and causes infection of the feet. Athlete’s foot can also be caused by wearing someone else’s shoes.
Appearance of the Athlete’s Foot
The infected feet appear cracked. The skin between the toes of the feet appears scaly, patchy and dead. The deramtophytes cause excessive flaking and peeling of the skin between the toes. If the fungus spreads to the nails, then the nails get infected. As a result of this, the nails may appear as discolored and thick. The fungus may even attack the nails to such an extent that it may cause the nails to crumble. In addition to the toes, the symptoms can also occur on the heels, palms, and between the fingers.
Diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot
The diagnosis is based primarily on the appearance of the skin of the foot. A scaly, flaky and patchy skin, along with a burning and stinging sensation between the toes, crumbed nails can confirm the diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot. The heath care professional, however can refer the person to a variety of tests in order to establish the diagnosis of tinea pedis or the fungal infection of the feet. Some of the tests commonly performed to diagnose athlete’s foot are mentioned below:
- Skin culture
This test is performed by the pathologist in the laboratory. In this test, the flecks of skin are cultured and allowed to grow in the lab under favorable conditions. Once the fungi grow and multiply in the damp environment, then they can be easily identified and diagnosis of athlete’s foot can be confirmed.
- Skin lesion biopsy
Biopsy of the skin lesion of the affected part of the feet is performed. The skin lesions are then examined under the microscope to identify the fungal infection of the feet.
The athlete’s foot is a condition that can be easily prevented by maintaining skin hygiene and wearing properly ventilated shoes and socks.