Itchy feet are extremely unpleasant. There doesn’t seem to be a good way to deal with the discomfort: ignoring the issue doesn’t eliminate the problem, while trying to scratch the itch rarely helps. You’re left with uncomfortable feet until you can find a better solution. Many different issues can make your feet itch, but the most common culprit is athlete’s foot.
The Source of the Problem
Athlete’s foot, also called tinea pedis, is one of the most common fungal infections on the surface of the feet. The microscopic pathogen that causes it also results in fungal toenail infections if it festers in the nail bed. The problem develops when your feet provide the ideal environment for fungal growth. The microorganism thrives in warm, damp atmospheres. Frequently sweaty feet, especially if they spend long hours trapped in shoes, provide excellent breeding grounds. Between the toes is the most common spot for infection, but anywhere on the lower limbs can be affected.
You can pick up the infection from many different places. Public locations where people walk around in bare feet tend to have a higher risk for the fungus. If those places are warm and moist, they provide the perfect environment for the fungi. Pools, locker rooms, saunas, and bathrooms are all common places you can be exposed to the infection. However, direct contact with an infected person’s skin or footwear can also transfer the pathogen to your feet.
As the fungus multiplies, it damages the surface of your skin. Usually your feet burn and feel itchy. Your skin may scale and peel. Occasionally, the infection results in painful blister development. This exposes raw skin to the infection and may cause pain and swelling. The pathogen typically gets trapped in your socks and footwear as well. There it can fester and re-expose your feet to the problem, or even spread it to your nails or other places on your lower limbs. The microorganism causing the problem is highly persistent and contagious—it passes easily to other people and surfaces, but is hard to eradicate.
Dealing with the Infection
Athlete’s foot becomes harder to treat the longer it damages your lower limbs. Dr. Victoria Melhuish can determine if the cause of your itchy feet is indeed a fungal infection or another problem. Once the condition has been accurately diagnosed, you can begin treatment to eliminate it.
This condition responds well to conservative therapies like topical medications. Our expert staff may recommend a variety of anti-fungal medications, from sprays to ointments. Stubborn conditions may need oral medications to target the invader from inside the body. You’ll need to thoroughly disinfect your footwear and keep your lower limbs clean and dry as well.
Once the condition has resolved, we can help you take steps to prevent reoccurrence. You may need to invest in footwear that allows your feet to breathe better. You should also rotate between multiple pairs of shoes from day to day so that each has a chance to dry out completely before you wear it again. You’ll need to avoid going barefoot in high-risk locations as well—even wearing shower sandals in a locker room can help.
You don’t have to suffer with itchy feet from Athlete’s foot. The sooner you take care of the issue, the sooner you’re able to restore your lower limbs to health and comfort. Don’t wait until the fungus has taken over your feet to seek help. Contact Sierra Foot & Ankle -- our offices are conveniently located in Carson City and Gardnerville, NV -- for more information or an appointment to take care of your lower limbs before they get worse. Call 888-608-8406 or use our website contact page to reach us.