Is It Hard to Treat Athlete's Foot?

By Medical Expert Team

Nov 28 , 2020 | 2 min read

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal skin function that affects the feet. It is also called as tinea pedis and is most commonly seen in athletes, hence the name. Even though it is a fairly common skin infection and not a serious one, there are some cases in which it is hard to treat athlete’s foot. For instance, people with diabetes or a weak immune system can have a tough time responding to athlete’s foot treatment. However, with proper treatment from the best skin specialist, athlete’s foot can indeed be cured at earliest.

Causes of Athlete’s Foot

Tinea fungus is the leading cause of athlete’s foot. This particular fungus is commonly found in moist and warm environments, so people in these areas should be extra careful. It thrives in showers, swimming pools, and areas with high humidity. 

Risk of Athlete’s Foot

There are no particular risk factors of athlete’s foot; however, some factors can increase the chances of someone getting this condition. Below are some factors that increase the risk of athlete’s foot:

  • Sweaty feet
  • Wet feet for a long time
  • Visiting public places barefoot, especially the ones mentioned above
  • Wearing tight-fitted shoes, especially closed-toe shoes
  • Sharing shoes, socks, wet towels with an infected person

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot can have many possible symptoms including:

  • Itching
  • Burning between the toes and on the soles
  • Raw colored feet
  • Blisters on the feet, typically accompanied by itching
  • Crawling and peeling skin on the feet

Diagnosing Athlete’s Foot

If a person has the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important to consult the best skin specialist to get the right treatment. A skin specialist can typically diagnose athlete’s foot by looking at the symptoms. However, in some cases the doctor might conduct a skin test, if the condition is not caused by any symptoms.

If the symptoms are not evident, a skin lesion exam with potassium hydroxide is conducted to diagnose the condition. It is done by scraping a small area of infected skin and placing it in potassium hydroxide solution. It destroys the healthy cells of the scraped skin and leaves the fungal cells as is, which can be later observed under a microscope. 

Treating Athlete’s Foot

Typically, athlete’s foot can be treated using OTC topical antifungal medicines. If the condition shows no improvement with OTC medicines, the doctor may prescribe oral or topical antifungal medications. However, in some instances, home treatment can also help in clearing the infection and curing athlete’s foot. 

Prescription medicines can include:

  • Topical steroid medications, prescription-strength
  • Oral antibiotics, if there is a bacterial infection caused due to blisters

Home treatment can consist of:

  • The doctor may advise soaking feet in a solution of diluted vinegar or salt water to dry up blisters
  • Applying tea tree oil 

Treating athlete’s foot is uncomplicated and can be easily managed. However, like every other condition, there are some cases when it can be challenging to treat this infection. Consulting a skin specialist is the first thing to do when there are any symptoms of athlete’s foot. 

Tips to Prevent Athlete’s Foot

  • Wash feet with soap and hot water (more than 60 degrees Celsius) every day
  • Dry evenly and make sure there is no moisture
  • Change socks every day, especially when feet are sweaty
  • Do not share any article of clothing, especially socks and towels
  • Wear breathable socks made from cotton or wool
  • Avoid swimming pools or areas with high humidity

Following the tips mentioned above can reduce the risk of getting athlete’s foot. Remember, even though athlete’s foot is easy to treat, the condition itself can cause irritation and lead to frustration with constant itching. Getting treatment at earliest is recommended.  

Written and Verified by:

Medical Expert Team