Origins of Foot Fungus
Foot fungus is a fungal infection of the foot that commonly affects people of all ages. The fungus feeds on keratin, a protein present in the skin and nails. As a result, the skin becomes flaky and scaly and the nails become discolored and brittle. There are mainly two types of foot fungus – one that affects the skin, called Athlete’s foot and the other that affects the nails, called Onychomycosis. Of these two types, Athlete’s foot can be easily treated.
Causes of foot fungus
As the name suggests, foot fungus is caused by fungi that infects the feet. Foot fungus is a contagious disease that is easily spread from one person to another directly through physical contact or through contact with warm and damp places (such as public showers, restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, swimming pools, and personal showers) where the fungus thrive. Once an infection occurs, it does not need much time spread and cause various symptoms like itching, blisters and cracked skin
Pictures of common type of foot fungus: interdigital
Symptoms of foot fungus
Depending on the type of foot fungus, the symptoms associated with it also varies. The symptoms of fungus that affects the skin includes
- Burning sensation
- Discharge of foul smelling pus
- Cracked and peeling skin that may appear soft and red
- Occurrence of small blisters
Gallery of Foot Fungus Images
The symptoms of foot fungus that develops on the toenail includes
- Thickening or hardening of the nails
- Crumbling of the nails and its separation from the nail bed
- Discoloration of the nails
- Foul smell arising from the affected area
- Accumulation of debris under the nails
- Formation of white marks on the nails
Treatment of foot fungus
There are several methods to treat foot fungus. The treatment however, depends on the type of foot fungus the patient has, its severity and the extent of the infection. If the infection is diagnosed in the early stages, it can be treated by the use of anti-fungal creams or powders. The other treatment methods include
- Prescription drugs
- Antifungal medication (topical or oral)
- Avoiding the use improper footwear
- Following proper hygienic practices
- Applying medicated toenail polish
- Podiatric laser treatment
Home remedies for foot fungus
There are a number of natural home remedies that have been found to be effective in curing foot fungus. The advantages of these remedies is that besides being inexpensive when compared to the other medication, they are more tolerated by the body and do not produce any side effects. Therefore it is worth attempting these remedies before going for prescription or over-the-counter medications. A few of the natural remedies are listed below:
- Clean your feet thoroughly with mild soap and lukewarm water. Make sure to dry your feet well after cleaning.
- Add some salt in lukewarm water and immerse your feet in the water for some time.
- Mix equal quantities of apple cider vinegar and warm water and wash your feet with this mixture.
- Mouthwash is another effective remedy against foot fungus.
- Applying tea tree oil on to the affected area with a cotton swab also works very well.
If the home remedies are not working for you, you should consult your doctor. Since there are several anti-fungal medications available today, it is best to ask your doctor to prescribe the one that will work for you. If medications also do not help, then your doctor may suggest surgical removal of the infected area.
Prevention of foot fungus
The most important way to prevent the occurrence of foot fungus is to follow certain hygienic practices. Following are some of the tips that may help to prevent foot fungus:
- Always keep your feet clean and dry
- Wear proper and breathable foot wear
- Avoid wearing dirty socks
- Use foot powders to absorb the sweat and keep your feet dry
- Avoid walking barefoot in public showers, pools, changing rooms, gyms etc
Foot fungus, generally does not create much problems and can be treated. However, this condition may sometimes be the symptom of an underlying condition. If ignored, the condition may worsen and may become difficult to treat. Therefore if you observe any signs of infection in the feet, be sure to seek medical care to determine the cause of infection and avail appropriate treatment.