Athlete’s foot is a common skin infection and nothing to worry about. Right? Wrong. Although we tend to think about athlete’s foot as an easily treated infection that we can handle with over-the-counter medication, it has its darker side.
According to Dr. Warren Joseph, an expert in the field of infectious disease, tinea pedis or athlete’s foot almost always precedes the development of toenail fungus. In addition, those with toenail fungus will often develop athlete’s foot.
Also, left untreated toenail fungus is a progressive disease that can spread to other nails and to other parts of the body. Finally, there is a genetic predisposition to T. Rubrum (one of the most common yeasts/molds that cause athletes foot and fungal nails) in some families.
What does this information mean for people with athlete’s foot and fungal nails?
1. Make sure that you treat your athlete’s foot when it occurs and don’t wait to get your toenail fungus treated.
2. When you decide to go for treatment of your fungal nails be sure to ask your Seattle podiatrist whether he/she treats the skin in additional to treating the nails. If your podiatrist only treat the nails then there is a higher likelihood of reinfection from the surrounding skin.
3. Even after you’ve gone through treatment of your fungal nails either with oral medications or laser it’s important to the use maintenance treatment regimens, disinfect shoes with products such as the SteriShoe+ Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer, wash your feet regularly and thoroughly dry them, and contact your physician at the first sign of infection.
Lately when I talk to patients about toenail fungus I let them know that it’s a chronic condition that needs maintenance just like your teeth. Bacteria are constantly bombarding your mouth and so brushing is necessary on a daily basis to prevent bacteria from forming plaque and creating acid that causes tooth decay. Likewise being proactive about caring for your feet after you’ve been through treatment will keep fungus from taking over even if you are genetic predisposed to getting it.
Photo credit: Flickr, Teresa Trimm