Athletes and Foot Fungus

June 08, 2010 Posted by Dr.Chang

In treating an athlete population, we find there is a high occurrence of fungus issues. Here are the two most common fungus issues our athlete patients deal with and some solutions to fix the problems.

Athlete’s Foot

The Athlete’s foot typically affects the skin on the feet between the toes, but can move anywhere and even affect the toenails. When the infection spreads to the toenails, they become thick and distorted.

Fungi are organisms such as mold and mildew and grow best in conditions that are moist. Bacteria may thrive also as a secondary infection, which worsens the symptoms of the disorder and makes it more difficult to cure

It is common to catch athlete’s foot from other people who have it by walking on floors that are moist or wet (e.g. at swimming pools and in shared bathroom/locker room facilities). Athlete’s foot is also much more common in people who tend to have moist feet, a condition called hyperhidrosis. Athlete’s foot can also be spread by sharing other people’s shoes or personal care items such as towels and wash cloths.

Athlete’s foot and fungus may also spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch their feet and then touch themselves elsewhere.

Symptoms Include:
– Reddened, cracked, and peeling skin
– Some bleeding
– Itching
– Burning
– Stinging sensation
– Development of small blisters (Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw
areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads. In severe cases the skin may thicken, like a callus and begin to scale.

There are a variety of over-the-counter products that can be used to treat tinea pedis fungus, such as:
– Lotrimin, Lamasil AT, Clotrimazole (creams & lotions)
– Bromi-Lotion or Bromi-Talc Powder (drying agents)

After a period of time, if products used for athlete’s foot and fungus fail, physician strength or prescription topical and/or oral antifungal drugs, can be prescribed by your Podiatrist.

-Wear sandals or shoes when walking on moist wet floors
-Don’t share shoes or personal care items such as towels
-Wear socks made of absorbent materials such as cotton or wool
-Change socks frequently if you perspire heavily
-Choose footwear that allows for the circulation of air
-Keep the floors in shared facilities clean and dry
-Keep your feet clean and dry by dusting Bromi-Talc Foot Powder in shoes and hose and feet
-Clean athletic shoes frequently with a good athletic shoe cleaning product

Fungal Nails
Fungal infection of toenails, called Onychomycosis, is a common foot health problem that many people do not recognize. Fungi easily attack the nail, thriving off keratin, the nail’s protein substance, and exfoliated nail bed tissue. This is especially common among athletes where the repetitive stress of activity distorts the toenail construct and allows organisms, which already exist on the skin, to invade under the nail plate.

Onychomycosis is an infection underneath the nail that can also penetrate the nail. If it is ignored, it could impair one’s ability to work or even walk because it is frequently accompanied by thickening of the nails, which then cannot be easily trimmed, and may cause pain while wearing shoes. This disease can frequently be accompanied by a secondary bacterial and/or yeast infection in/or about the nail plate.

– Change in color (yellow or brown)
– Nail gets thicker
– Bad odor
– Debris collects beneath the nail
– White marks on the nail
– This infection is capable of spreading to other nails, the skin or even the fingernails.

There are a variety of products that can be used on the toe nails that fungus. We have had good results with topical:
– Formula 3
– Fungasil
– Gordochrom Fungicide-Germicide

Clean, dry feet resist disease. Wash the feet with soap and water, and dry thoroughly. Shower shoes should be worn in public areas. Shoes, socks and hosiery should be changed daily. Use a quality foot powder, talcum not cornstarch. Buy shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe.

Seeing your Podiatrist :
– A Podiatrist (DPM) can detect a fungal infection early. A suitable treatment plan may include prescribing topical or oral medication (such as Lamisil), and debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) of an infected nail. Debridement is one of the among most common foot care procedures performed by DPMs. Debridement allows for reduction of fungal load and more effective penetration of topical medications when used. In some cases surgical treatment may be required. Temporary removal of the infected nail can be performed to permit direct application of a topical antifungal. Permanent removal of a chronically painful nail, which has not responded to any other treatment, permits the fungal infection to be cured and prevents the return of a deformed nail.

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