4 Must-Know Facts About Athlete's Foot

June 17th 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor

On any given day, 20% of Americans are infected with tinea pedis.

On any given day, 20% of Americans are infected withtinea pedis.

For the reason, retail clinicians should counsel their patients on the following facts about athlete’s foot:

1. Athlete’s foot doesn’t only occur in athletes.

The majorrisk factorsfor athlete’s foot include:

· Visiting public places while barefoot, especially locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools

· Sharing socks, shoes, or towels with an infected person

· Wearing tight-fitting, closed-toe shoes

· Keeping your feet wet for long periods of time

· Having sweaty feet

2. Athlete’s foot can usually be diagnosed just by looking at it.

However, clinicians may also conduct the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

· Viewing skin scrapings or samples from the infected area under a microscope

· Looking at the patient’s feet under black light from a Wood’s light

· Sending a sample of infected skin to a lab for testing

Symptoms include itching, stinging, and burning between the toes or on the soles of the feet, as well as itchy foot blisters and cracking, peeling skin.

3. The infection can spread to other parts of the body.

For instance, picking at the infected foot can cause a similar infection to develop on the hands. The fungi associated with the infection can also spread into the nails, which tend to be more resistant to treatment.

Additionally, the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot typically causes jock itch. Its spread is usually the result of drying several parts of the body with an infected towel.

4. Many OTC products can treat athlete’s foot.

Most cases of athlete’s foot can be effectively treated with the use of OTC products available in formulations that include creams, sprays, powders, and liquids.

Nonprescription products for the treatment of fungal infections contain imidazole derivatives, such as clotrimazole and miconazole. Other products may contain tolnaftate, which is indicated for both the prevention and treatment of athlete's foot.

Clinicians can also prescribe oral antifungals for severe cases of athlete’s foot. Common prescription medications in this class include itraconazole, voriconazole, and posaconazole.

Relief is usually seen within 1 week of therapy, though patients should be reminded to stay adherent for the recommended duration of therapy to ensure that the infection is treated properly.

Prior torecommendingany products for athlete’s foot, clinicians should assess each case and determine whether self-treatment is sufficient or whether further medical evaluation is warranted, such as for patients with diabetes or circulatory conditions and those who may otherwise be considered immunocompromised. Patients should also be reminded that infections that don’t appear to respond to the use of self-care products should be evaluated by their health care provider to prevent further complications.

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