Athlete’s foot (linea pedis) is a fungal infection of the skin which thrives in warm, wet conditions. The skin between the toes becomes red, soggy, itchy, flaky and sometimes smelly. It’s not very common in children but is a frequent problem for adolescents and sporty young men and women who use communal changing rooms. The condition will persist until it’s treated and, as other people can be infected, prompt attention is required.
Treatment is fairly straightforward. If you suffer from athlete’s foot – or as a precaution against it – you should ensure your feet are kept dry. ‘Air’ them as often as possible, wash them frequently, particularly during hot weather, change socks or stockings daily and avoid walking barefoot in public changing rooms. If you have to use a changing room or communal shower, try wearing sandals to avoid any risk of infection from the floor.
Antifungal creams, sprays or powders are usually very effective. They mainly contain antifungal drugs such as tolnaftate, undecenoic acid, miconazole, dichlorophen or zinc undecenoate and need to be used morning and night after thoroughly washing your feet (always use your own flannel and towel) and removing any loose skin. Rub creams or spray sprays into and around affected skin. Sprinkle powder liberally on to feet, particularly between the toes -it’s helpful, too, to dust socks and the insides of shoes before wearing them. Unless the instructions on your medicine advise you differently, continue treatment for a week after all signs of infection have disappeared.
If the condition doesn’t clear up in a week or so, you may need a stronger antifungal agent than those available over the counter. Consult your doctor.
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