A combination of circumstances in the fall has us at Paul Klein, DPM FACFAS seeing an increase in fungal infections. Fungi love warm, dark, moist places. They are also spread by direct contact. With the cooler weather, patients are back to wearing closed toe shoes where sweaty feet can be stuck for hours on end. In addition, many people move their fitness routines indoors, using the locker rooms and showers in public gyms where fungi hang out. Three infections to watch out for are:
- Athlete’s foot—also known as tinea pedis, this infection causes itchy, red patches to form on the skin of your feet, most often starting between the toes. Left untreated, the skin can crack, ooze and become infected. Athlete’s foot can also spread to other parts of the body.
- Fungal toenails—when the fungi that causes athlete’s foot spreads to the skin under the nail, it can cause the toenails to become infected as well. This is called onychomycosis. Fungal toenails will change color, get thicker and may become crumbly at the edges.
- Warts—technically, warts are caused by a virus but they are contracted the same way as the above fungal infections, by direct contact. There are different kinds of warts. Some are flat and hard while others are raised and fleshy. There may be tiny black dots in the center of the wart.
Although none of these conditions are extremely serious to the average patient, they can pose a major health threat to those with diabetes or other autoimmune diseases. In addition, in all patients they can spread and develop into something more serious if not treated promptly.
Preventing Foot Infections
There are a number of ways that you can help stop foot infections before they start. These include:
- Keeping your feet covered in public places. Wear shower shoes or flip flops in the gym, salon or any place where bare feet come in contact with public surfaces.
- Don’t share items that touch another person’s feet: this includes socks, shoes, towels, nail clippers and files.
- Keep feet dry. If you tend to sweat excessively change your socks more than once a day and use a foot powder each morning.
- Wash your feet daily and dry completely, paying particular attention to the area between your toes.
If you notice some type of rash or discoloration on your skin or toenails, contact our Wayne, NJ office for an appointment by calling: 973-595-1555. Our podiatrist, Dr. Paul G. Klein, will be able to diagnose your infection and prescribe the correct treatment.