Athlete’s Foot: Common Symptoms & Treatment Options

Athlete’s foot is a fungal foot infection that is caused by Trichophyton fungus. This fungus is normally present on the skin and does not cause any symptoms, however warm and moist conditions can make this fungus spread very quickly, causing itching, redness, skin peeling and foul odor. It is most commonly noted between the toes. 

Athlete’s foot is curable although it’s treatment can last for several weeks. Treatment usually involves the use of antifungal ointments, either purchased over-the-counter or prescribed. It is important to continue treatment for the duration specified by your doctor to relieve itching and discomfort and to prevent worsening and further spreading. 

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Common symptoms

Symptoms of athlete’s foot emerge when the fungus has spread on a surface like a wet floor in a locker room or poolside. It can also spread within the toes if feet are not dried off properly after showering or if you use socks and closed toe shoes frequently, as the fungus thrives off of warm and moist areas. 

The main symptoms of athlete’s foot are: 

  • Itching
  • Flaking skin
  • White or pale skin
  • Burning
  • Foul odor 

It is important to see a dermatologist if you notice these symptoms, so that treatment can be initiated with antifungal ointments. 

Treatment options

Treatment of athlete’s foot is aimed at eliminating the excess fungus and relieving symptoms. You should see a doctor to determine the best treatment approach.Be sure to finish treatment for the entire duration specified, even if symptoms resolve, as this will guarantee total elimination of the fungus. 

1. Antifungal ointments

Antifungal ointments are often prescribed for athlete’s foot, and usually contain ketoconazole, fluconazole or isoconazole. These ointments should be applied 2 to 3 times per day for 4 weeks, as per the doctor’s prescription. 

Treatment time may vary, generally the ointment is used on a daily basis and the feet are kept as dry as possible. If treatment is not adhered to, this may last for weeks or months. If you are unable to manage symptoms with solely ointments, the doctor may recommend oral pills. 

2. Home remedy

A great home remedy for athlete’s foot is to smash a fresh clove of garlic and apply it directly onto the affected area for at least 1 hour. The garlic helps to fight the growth of the fungus and generally has a good effect. However, it is important for the clove to be fresh and smashed, and that it is in constant contact with the skin. It may be useful to wear a sock with the garlic in place. 

Some people may be hypersensitive to the garlic. If you feel burning in the area or other signs of inflammation, like redness or swelling, remove the garlic and rinse the skin with cold water. Be sure not to apply for longer than an hour. 

3. Essential measures

To ensure treatment is effective and to relieve symptoms, it is important to take specific measures like: 

  • Avoid using closed toe shoes without cotton socks 
  • Try to avoid having sweaty socks
  • Keep your closed toe shoes in the sun when not in use 
  • Wear flip-flops when showering in public places
  • Sprinkle antiseptic powder inside your running shoes or closed-toe shoes
  • Dry the skin between your toes carefully after showering with a towel or blow dryer

In addition, it is important to avoid using moist shoes or shoes made with synthetic material. You should also be sure to swap your socks when they are wet.