Athlete’s foot, ring worm, foot fungus… medically referred to as tinea pedis, these terms are used to describe a fungal skin infection on the foot. This condition can be unsightly, itchy and even painful which is why rapid diagnosis and treatment is critical. This article will explore the causes, appearance, treatment and management of foot fungus.

What causes it?

Tinea pedis is caused by organisms called dermatophytes that feed on a protein called keratin that make up your skin. Fungus thrives in warm, moist, dark places. Closed footwear creates the perfect environment for fungus to grow. In addition to environment, certain health conditions can lower an individual’s immune system can put patients at increased risk of developing tinea pedis. Some of these health conditions include but are not limited to diabetes, lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and old age (Sahoo & Mahajan, 2016). There is increasing evidence that suggests that tinea pedis may lead to the development of foot ulcers in diabetic patients, which further emphasizes the importance of rapid diagnoses and treatment (Matricciani, Talbot & Jones, 2011).

Appearance and location

Foot fungus can appear in between toes, along the inner arch and even along the entire bottom aspect of the foot. When in between toes, the skin can appear white, peeling, cracked with underlying redness. When found along the inner arch, there are often tiny red fluid filled bumps. Another presentation of tinea can be thick, cracked hard skin along the bottom of the foot in a moccasin appearance.

sole of foot arch of foot between toes

How can I treat it?

See a chiropodist for proper diagnosis. A chiropodist will perform a dermatological assessment. If fungus is present, it is likely the practitioner will prescribe a topical antifungal cream and education to prevent reoccurrence. Some things you can do to prevent reoccurrence are:

  1. Keep feet dry.
    • Dry well in between toes after showering or bathing.
    • Moisture wicking socks made from synthetic material can help to pull moisture away from the foot.
    • Change socks part way through the day and/or after physical activity if socks feel damp.
  2. Rotate shoes to allow them to fully dry between use.
  3. To prevent reinfection, wash all socks in hot soapy water and dry on a high heat setting to kill fungal spores.

If you have any questions regarding foot fungus, or other foot related concerns, be sure to book an appointment for an in depth foot assessment.

By: Alexandra Misiak HBSc., D.Ch.
Registered Chiropodist

References:

  • Matricciani, L., Talbot, K. & Jones, S. Safety and efficacy of tinea pedis and onychomycosis treatment in people with diabetes: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res 4, 26 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1186/1757-1146-4-26
  • Sahoo, A. K., & Mahajan, R. (2016). Management of tinea corporis, tinea cruris, and tinea pedis: A comprehensive review. Indian dermatology online journal, 7(2), 77–86. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.178099

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