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How to Treat Athlete's Foot

Find out what causes athlete’s foot and 7 easy ways to treat and prevent these foot symptoms.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
September 20, 2016
Episode #088

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Athlete’s foot (aka tinea pedis): it’s not the most embarrassing problem you can have, but it’s certainly not one you want to shout out from the rooftop. Yet even if you’re embarrassed by your medical symptoms, it shouldn’t keep you from talking to your doctor about them. I am always stunned to see patients live for years with certain conditions because they are too fearful to ask their doctor for help. Believe me when I tell you that there is no topic that is too embarrassing for physicians. We’ve heard and seen it all … especially about so-called “embarrassing” conditions much more frequently than you think. On a daily basis, I see patients with complaints of body odors, rashes, STDsitching, gases, sexual disturbances, and much more. You name the embarrassing symptom, and I’ve seen patients with it—again and again. 

That’s why I enjoy covering these sorts of topics. I know as a doctor how common they are and how many patients are afraid to speak up and ask about them. And I hope to help. So today I’d like to cover one of those topics that make many people squirm—athlete’s foot.

What Is Athlete’s Foot?

According to a study published in BMJ Clinical Evidence15-25% of people are likely to contact athlete’s foot at one point or another. The culprit of athlete’s foot is not a virus or bacteria, but a fungus. The technical medical lingo for athlete’s foot is “tinea pedis.” Despite the name, athletes aren’t the only ones who experience athlete’s foot. The reason many athletes tend to contract this fungus on their feet is because they break a serious sweat, and they tend to walk around barefoot all over the locker room and shared public shower areas.

However, anyone at any age from childhood into adulthood can contract athlete's foot. Fungus lives everywhere your feet go: in the shower, on the floor, around the pool, and in our socks and shoes.

What Are the Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?

Patients with athlete’s foot often describe the bottom of their feet and in between their toes as:

  • Cracked

  • Scaling

  • Itchy

  • Red

And sometimes when severe enough, athlete’s foot can even cause blisters on the feet. But those aren’t the only symptoms …

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