What is Tinea Pedis?
Tinea is a contagious fungal infection of the skin. Tinea pedis refers to the fungal infection being present on the feet. This fungus can affect other areas of the body such as the groin, scalp and underneath the breasts. As with all fungi, tinea needs warm, moist areas to live. This explains why the fungus commonly affects the hot, dark, clammy areas of the body.
How is Tinea Spread?
Tinea is often spread by skin-to-skin contact or indirectly through floors, towels and clothing. It is very easily spread in communal locker rooms and showers which are constantly moist and provide a great environment for the fungal spores to live in. Unlike other organisms such as viruses, fungal reproductive spores can last a long time on surfaces without a ‘host’ body to support them. This is especially true in damp areas which is why showers and pools get a bad name.
What are Symptoms of Tinea Pedis?
Common symptoms include
• Itching and stinging
• Red scaly rash
• Cracking, peeling and blistering in between the web spaces in the toes
It might also appear as a lesser, ‘low-grade’ infection where there is just a red flare to the affected skin.
Alternatively, some infections will appear as dry, cracked, often painful skin.
How to Avoid Tinea Infection
As we know, tinea loves warmth and moistness. Some easy ways to avoid this fungal infection are
• Drying the feet well after showering, focusing particularly on the spaces in between the toes
• Exposing the skin to air frequently and allowing some air-time after a shower for the moisture in the skin to evaporate.
• Wearing cotton socks rather than synthetic socks-or going hi-tech and using socks with copper thread. Fungus and bacteria cannot live on this material and these are a really good choice for stubborn problems. They are available at our clinics.
• Using antiperspirants to stop excessive sweating. This is not the same as a deodorant which only cover up smells. Antiperspirants contain chemicals which cause the sweat glands to ‘pucker-up’ and stay dry.
• Wearing thongs in change rooms, communal showers and around swimming pools where your feet might encounter bugs that have been left by those before you.
It is also important to stop the spread if you happen to become infected. This can be done by
• Treating your tinea straight away with anti-fungal topical preparations
• Treat until symptoms are no longer present PLUS three days more.
• Washing your hands after touching the infected area
• Not sharing towels
• Making sure to not walk around barefoot and infecting others
• Cleaning the shower, bath and bathroom floor after use
• Treating the inside of your shoes with anti-fungal sprays or powders. Removing insoles for some time in the sun
• Washing socks after each wear and drying in the hot sun when possible.