Myths surrounding athlete's foot.

Myths surrounding athlete's foot.



Monday, April 21, 2014

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ATHLETE's foot (AF), also known as Tinea pedis, is a fungal infection which affects twice as many men as women.

It is said to be more common in hot climates, like Jamaica, because sweat helps the fungus to grow. In this condition fungus grows on your foot, mostly between your toes, and the foot will then react to these growths by itching, reddening and sometimes with cracked skin and a strong odour.

Dermatologist Dr Patricia Yap said the condition is quite common and persons will develop it at least once in their lifetime.

"Athlete's foot is a very common skin condition. Many people will develop AF at least once in their lives," Dr Yap said. "We called this condition athlete's foot because people who play a lot of sports tend to get it more often. This is because the warm, moist environment created by the sweaty socks in sneakers is ideal for the growth of the fungi," she said. "AF is most prevalent amongst teenagers and adult males who love to wear sneakers."

She said the condition is also common amongst chefs, police officers, soldiers, and security guards who have to be in shoes for long hours.

However, she said, it is uncommon in women who wear a lot of open-toed shoes and sandals.

Symptoms of athlete's foot include intense itching of the feet, cracked, blistered or peeling areas of skin, especially between the toes and redness and scaling on the soles. In some persons, the infection spreads to one or more toenails, causing the nail to appear unusually thick and cloudy yellow.

However, there are a number of myths that surround AF that people should not believe.

Myth 1

Athlete's foot is only for athletes

Athlete's foot got its name because the fungus that causes it likes to hang out in conditions popularly created by the activities of athletes, and traces may be left in places like showers and locker rooms. However, you do not need to be an athlete to get this condition, as anyone who is exposed to the fungus can get infected, including women.

Myth 2

Showering regularly can prevent athlete's foot

Showering is actually one of the ways you can get athlete's foot, because if you step into a locker room or pool shower with bare feet you can pick up the condition. Showering alone won't clear up the fungus that causes athlete's foot no matter how carefully you wash between your toes. But keeping your feet clean and dry can help prevent this fungus from returning.

Myth 3

Rubbing the feet with dry cloth will make the area sore

It is important to dry the feet properly after showering or after they have got wet in order to get rid of moisture since the fungus strives on wetness. Drying with a cloth will not make the feet sorer but helps to get rid of the condition.

Myth 4

Only nasty people get athlete's foot

Athlete's foot has nothing to do with cleanliness. Even if you wash your feet with soap and water several times a day you can get athlete's foot, especially if the feet are not properly dried.

Myth 5

You can only get athlete's foot by walking barefoot in areas where the fungus lives

Walking barefoot in places where the fungus lives such as a locker room or public shower is only one way to get athlete's foot. You can also become infected if you share a towel, socks, or shoes with someone who has athlete's foot.

Myth 6

If you don't have peeling skin between your toes, it's not athlete's foot

Athlete's foot can look different in each person. Some people get peeling or cracking skin between their toes, while others will have redness or dryness on the bottom of their feet that looks just like dry skin.

Myth 7

You can get athlete's foot only once in your lifetime

Even after proper medical treatment, the infection can return easily if your feet are exposed again to fungi and sweaty, warm conditions. For this reason, many people have athlete's foot infection that lasts or keeps returning for many years. Successfully curing the infection often requires changes in how you care for your feet and what you wear on your feet

Preventative methods include:

* wearing cotton socks to absorb sweat

* choosing leather shoes rather than vinyl, since leather is believed to allow the feet to "breathe" making them more likely to stay dry.

* not sharing shoes.

* washing your feet thoroughly every day in addition to wearing a clean pair of socks after your bath or shower.

* Take time to dry your feet, including each toe, thoroughly after you bathe, shower or swim.

* If you use public pools or showers, wear sandals to prevent your bare feet from touching floors contaminated with fungi.

* If possible, don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. It is recommended that you give shoes a 24-hour break between wearing to minimise the growth of the fungi.

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