Red, itchy dry skin that’s flaking and oozing, toenails that have white spots or have become a dull dark color with crumbly edges—these are typical signs of fungal infection in the skin and nails of the feet and a problem we see quite often at Edmond Norman Foot & Ankle. Many myths persist about this common condition, including:
You can’t catch athlete’s foot from a hotel carpet. While not highly likely, you can catch athlete’s foot from a hotel room carpet and pretty much from any place where people walk barefoot. That’s why it’s essential to wear shower shoes in public areas like gyms, locker rooms, community pools and changing areas. Fungal infections are spread by direct contact: if your bare foot comes in contact with the fungus you can get an infection.
Sweaty feet are not a factor in fungal infections. Fungus grows fast and furious in dark, moist, warm spaces. If your feet sweat profusely and you keep them in damp socks, closed up in dark shoes, there’s a good chance any fungus on your skin will grow into an infection. Consider changing your socks more than once a day if you sweat excessively and rotate your shoes to give each pair a chance to air out.
Fungal toenails and athlete’s foot are not related. Yes, actually they are. Both are caused by fungus and one can spread to the other.
Fungal infections are not affected by other medical conditions. Disorders such as diabetes that weaken the immune system make patients more susceptible to developing a fungal infection. Poor circulation can slow the healing of an existing infection.
Fungal infections don’t require treatment. Although over-the-counter treatments exist for athlete’s foot and fungal toenails, if your infection doesn’t clear up in a week or so, you need to make an appointment to see our podiatrist, Dr. A. Bil Buksh. As an infection worsens sores and blisters can form and then open on the skin, leaving you open to a bacterial infection as well. Patients with diabetes and other immune-suppressing conditions need to be particularly concerned as ulcers and sores can quickly develop and infections can pose a serious threat.