The fungal foot infection tinea pedis is commonly referred to as athlete’s foot, but you don’t have to be an athlete to catch it. You can get athlete’s foot simply by sharing a bath mat or towel — or even a bed — with someone else who has it. And, once you get it, you can spread the infection to other parts of your body or reinfect yourself even after you think it’s been cleared.
At Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, in Lodi, New Jersey, experienced podiatrist Sean Rosenblum, DPM, knows how frustrating and annoying the itching and scaling of athlete’s foot can be. Here, he gives a few pointers about how to know when it’s time to stop self-treating and get professional help for your foot fungus from a podiatrist.
You have diabetes
If you have diabetes, you should see Dr. Rosenblum as soon as you suspect you have a foot fungus. High blood glucose levels can damage the nerves in your foot, impairing your ability to feel pain. When scratching your itchy athlete’s foot, you could inadvertently break the skin, increasing your chances for a bacterial infection called cellulitis that could spread throughout your body.
Examine your feet daily for signs of scaly, red, or white patches. Be sure you contact Dr. Rosenblum if you notice any sores, ulcers, or inflamed areas on your feet.
If you have an immune system disorder or are HIV positive, you’re also at risk for complications from athlete’s foot. The fungus can break down your skin, causing sores, ulcers, and cellulitis. The infection from untreated cellulitis can travel to your lymph nodes and cause life-threatening conditions such as sepsis.
Your rash doesn’t improve
If your athlete’s foot doesn’t clear up with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments within a week or two, see Dr. Rosenblum for an evaluation. Many other conditions mimic the scaly rash of athlete’s foot, including:
- Contact dermatitis
- Dry skin
Dr. Rosenblum examines your foot and may take a skin scraping. Once he’s made a diagnosis, he prescribes treatment to resolve your symptoms and clear any infections.
Your feet become swollen or hot
If your feet swell up, are hot to the touch, or are painful, you could have the infection cellulitis, which can spread throughout your body. Signs and symptoms of cellulitis include:
- Red spots
- Skin is warm to touch
- Skin dimpling
- Painful feet
- Reddening skin
As soon as you notice any symptoms of cellulitis, come to the office immediately.
Your rash spreads or gets worse
If you scratch athlete’s foot, you could infect your hands. Your hands can also pass the infection to other parts, including your groin (i.e., jock itch), or even your face.
When the fungus gets into your nail bed, your toenails become thick, yellow, or crumbly. An untreated nail infection can be so painful that it’s hard to walk or wear shoes.
Treatment restores foot health
If you have a fungal infection in your feet or toenails, Dr. Rosenblum tailors treatments to match your symptoms and level of severity. Possible therapies to restore your feet, clear your symptoms, and eliminate pain include:
- Antifungal toenail medication
- Antifungal oral medication
- Antibiotics (if you have a bacterial infection, too)
- Antifungal creams, lotions, or powders
Prescription antifungal preparations are much more powerful than OTC versions. To clear your foot fungus and restore your comfort and health, contact us by phone or online form.