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Athlete's foot
is a common fungal infection of the feet, usually occurring between the toes. Symptoms include pain, burning, itching, cracking, scaling and swelling. Sometimes the infection can spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails and, if left untreated, can infect other parts of the body as well, including the fingers, hands, scalp, underarms, groin, and mouth.

Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus that becomes active when exposed to a warm and humid environment or when there is a change in the condition of the skin. The moist environment of shower areas is perfect for harboring fungi. Shoes and socks are also likely breeding grounds because they tend to accumulate perspiration and moisture.

  Anyone can get athlete's foot, even non-athletes! Some people are more prone to fungal infections because of their age, heredity or health condition. Older people are more susceptible because as they age, their skin becomes thinner and dryer and less able to guard against fungal infections. People with diseases such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease that lower their resistance to infection are also at increased risk and should take preventive measures to prevent athlete's foot.

  It is important to treat athlete's foot when symptoms first occur to keep the infection from spreading to other parts of the body. Over-the-counter antifungal medications such as Lamisil or Lotrimin are normally very effective for most cases of athlete's foot, providing you don't stop treatment too soon. People often terminate treatment as soon as their symptoms go away, which can cause the infection to recur since the infection may still be present.
You can help prevent athlete's foot by keeping your feet and your bath or shower area clean and dry. Always wear clean socks and avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row (they need time to dry out). Try not to walk barefoot in community areas.

Treatment and Prevention

Always wash and dry feet carefully, especially between the toes
Wear cotton socks more often than nylon or silk socks
Use foot powder to help keep feet dry
Wash socks in hot water and bleach
Use an over-the-counter antifungal medication to treat infected areas when symptoms first appear. Be sure to use the medication for the entire recommended period of time
If infection does not respond to treatment, see your podiatrist. Prescription medication are more effective such as: oral medicine - Lamisil and Sporonox, or topical-Penlac, Loprox, and Spectazole


The tendency to sweat excessively is called hyperhidrosis. In addition to causing foot odor, walking with sweaty feet can cause fungal growth (such as athlete's foot) and other infections. If your feet sweat, be especially careful to keep them clean and dry. Use an antiperspirant powder or spray and change your socks whenever they become damp.

  Combating fungal nail infections

Fungal infection of the toenails or onychomycosis is a common health problem, although many people assume it's nothing more than a cosmetic problem. In reality, if a fungal infection is ignored, its spread could impair your ability to walk by being painful and irritable.

A fungal infection is caused when fungus, along with dirt and debris, becomes trapped under the toenail and penetrates the softer nail bed. Nails attacked by fungus thicken, discolor and may separate from the nail bed or even crumble away. Your podiatrist will examine your nails and recommend the appropriate treatment depending on the severity of the condition. Medication is often prescribed. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove the infected nail so a new nail may be able to grow out in three months.

Treatment options

Keep feet clean and dry to help resist infection
Keep your toenails trimmed short and straight across don't cut the corner too deep or too round or arched
Use a cuticle stick (nothing sharp) to remove dirt and debris from under your nails
Prescription antifungal medication may be recommended
Surgical removal of the infected nail may be necessary in some cases, and can be done at the podiatrist's office


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Dr. Henry Tseng Podiatry
Tel: (626) 330-4866 Fax: (626) 330-7989
We speak English, Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese)
We gladly accept most insurance: Medicare/MediCal, private insurance, and referrals from
family doctors.