Athletes Foot and Fungal Nails

Athletes Foot and Fungal Nails

Fungal infections of the skin and nails are caused by a number of different fungi and yeasts.
The infection is caught when the skins protective acid layer is disrupted, which is when skin conditions are altered, ie becomes too wet or too dry. The fungus is passed on in pieces of dead skin which shed when barefoot, and so is commonly caught in communal changing rooms.

These will not resolve without treatment and will continue to spread to the other nails and other parts of the body, such as groin, hands, and fingernails.

Fungal Nails: It appears as white or yellow patches on the nail initially, then spreads gradually to the entire nail plate, causing it to thicken and distort, and may become uncomfortable.

Athletes Foot: It can infect any part of the foot, appearing as white peeling patches between toes, red raised patches on the soles, and dry flaky areas on the heels. It can be itchy, painful, or non-symptomatic.

What can I do if I have a fungal infection?

  • You should be examined by a Podiatrist and can have a skin or nail sample taken for an accurate diagnosis.
  • Topical creams, gels, sprays are not suitable for nail infections, which may require specialists lacquers or tablets if the infection is advanced.  Your Podiatrist will discuss an appropriate treatment plan with you.
  • It is essential to remove the fungal spores from your shoes, socks etc to prevent immediate reinfection.  Your Podiatrist will discuss how best to accomplish this.

How can I prevent getting a fungal infection?

  • Wash and dry thoroughly, especially between toes, at least one a day.
  • Try to prevent skin becoming too wet or too dry.
  • Apply surgical spirit, witch hazel or anti-perspirant between toes if too wet, or emollient to skin which is dry.
  • Wear socks made from cotton, wool or bamboo and change at least daily.
  • Avoid wearing shoes made from synthetic materials such as plastic or vinyl which encourage perspiration.
  • Wear flip-flops in changing rooms to prevent spread of infection.
  • Check other members of your family. The infection is highly contagious and you may be re-infected if they also have athletes foot.
  • Repetitive trauma from sport or ill-fitting footwear will continue to damage the nail and make it susceptible to repeat infections.

REMEMBER, all treatments need to be undertaken daily and continued even if the condition seems to have cleared, as fungal spores are very resistant and lie dormant in dead skin cells for up to 18 months.