What's Going Around: athlete's foot

Updated: Jul. 13, 2017 at 6:07 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A contagious fungal infection that affects the feet is What's Going Around this week.

Athlete's foot is typically not serious, but it can be challenging to treat, according to Dr. Tyson Green, foot and ankle specialist with Center for Orthopaedics.

"A lot of people know it from dry, itchy areas in between the toes that they can't get rid of," said Dr. Green.  "They put powder on it, they put things over the counter on it and it just kind of festers."

Dr. Green says it is called athlete's foot because it's commonly seen in athletes, but anyone, particularly in the hot, summer months can contract it.

"You see it in people that have jobs that they sweat a lot within boots, within cleats in athletes," he said.  "We'll see a lot of different redness areas of infection on there."

The fungal infection is spread through contact.  Dr. Green says it is more itchy than it is painful.

"When it's itching a lot and then you start scratching it and then it starts irritating and then it starts hurting," said Dr Green.  "The first signs and symptoms are itching, maybe some redness.  Some people, in between the toes, it will look like you sat in the bathtub for a long time, like prune hands, you'll get some little white areas of maceration between the toes."

One of the most common reasons athlete's foot lingers is because people do not treat their shoes, so they reinfect their feet.  Here's what Dr. Green suggests: 

"You can take wadded up newspaper or paper towels and spray them down with Lysol, and stuff them in the shoes and leave it there overnight.  That will kill the fungus that's in there.  It will also kill the bacteria," said Dr. Green.  "One of the other neat ways of doing it is just taking all of your shoes and putting them in a garbage bag and sticking them in your deep freeze overnight."

That kills the fungus and the bad shoe smell.

If you take those steps and use over-the-counter anti-fungals, your infection should clear within a couple of weeks.

If it doesn't you might need a prescription medication or it could be a sign of a different skin condition.  

Dr. Green advises any time you will be in a locker room-type setting, to wear shower shoes.  Then be sure to use Lysol on the shower shoes from time to time.

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