Athletes Foot (AF) is one of those conditions that is sometimes misunderstood. AF, also known as Tinea Pedis, is caused by Tricophyton Rubrum, one of three fungus collectively called dermatophytes (or skin loving organisms). It is also worthy to note that these dermatophytes are the same organisms that affect the toenails- giving us Toenail Fungus.
It loves us!
It really does. If you think how mushrooms are grown then you can see why:
Now just swap a mushroom farm for your foot and that is roughly why it likes us :)
We provide it:
What Athletes Foot Looks Like.
Because AF is primarily a skin condition, it causes problems within the skin.
1. It itches,
2. Causes red patches,
3. If you really want to see it, look hard and you will see little red pin prick dots on the skin.
4. Sometimes you will see "dryness" along the skin creases of the foot. This in itself can be the fungus.
What Else Could It be?
It can also resemble psoriasis and eczema and they would be the other conditions to consider. Sometimes a dermatitis can look very similar. We have had patients who had come to see us, on anti-fungus medication for some time, only to be told that their condition was because of dye within their shoe.
In the above picture, can you see the white dry lines with redness along the outside of the foot- the foot “boarder”.
The above picture is Athletes Foot within the spaces of the toes. All spaces can be affected but you usually find the little toe and the big toe spaces to be more prone. This is mainly due to the fact that both toes can be pressed into the other toes- greatly increasing moisture content, warmth and darkness. You will also notice that air can not get through those toe spaces.
Once in, the AF will spread. Notice in the above picture how the big toe space and to a mild amount, the middle toe space is also affected?
What I must state though, is that AF is not really localised to the feet. There are many parts of the body which have the same “great growing areas” that are not always mentioned. I would go to say that the same dermatophytes if introduced to those same conditions would cause the same effect.
Therefore it is always wise to wash hands thoroughly, use separate towels & socks…generally being aware that these things can contaminate.
Sometimes though, AF can jump into an area which doesn’t particularly have an AF predisposition. Sometimes you can find AF within hard skin, especially around the heels. The hard skin looks dry and has fissuring (splitting).