BENGALURU: People who wear shoes most of the time are more vulnerable to skin and nail related fungal infections caused by microscopic organisms. Experts say that as the fourth and fifth toe are usually cramped in the shoe, the evaporation of sweat is less and this helps a fungus like Candida Albicans to thrive.
“These infections attack human skin and nails, particularly at times of mild debility or when the skin is damaged and therefore more susceptible to bacterial invasion,” observes Dr RK Hanumanthayya, professor, dermatology, Vydehi Medical College and Hospital.
Experts say that people who suffer from diabetes are at greater risk. If a person with diabetes fails to take proper measures, then he/she may lose a toe to gangrene, says Dr Hanumanthayya.
Dermatologists also say that ‘Athlete’s Foot’ is caused by (Trichophyton) bacteria and this infection is the most common fungal infection. Infection usually appears on the skin between the toes, causing sogginess and scaling of the skin. This fungus thrives in moist and dark places, which means that feet and toes are an ideal breeding ground. Therefore, patients should keep their feet clean and wash the toes with clean water. And wipe them dry.
“The risk of getting Athlete’s Foot increases if a person keeps his feet wet for long periods, wears closed shoes, and sweats a lot,” says Dr Praveen Rogrigues, consultant dermatologist, Vikram Hospital.
Athlete’s Foot is contagious. If someone has this infection, others should not use his or her stockings, shoes etc.
Patients should look out for symptoms like pale and red skin, mild or intense itchiness between the toes, blistered or cracked skin, inflammation and burring, scaling of skin, small cracks on skin, thickened, malformed or yellowish nails.
Tips to prevent foot odour
There are several things you can do to prevent or minimise foot odour. Wash your feet daily with soap and water. Keep your toenails trimmed. Always wear a fresh pair of socks.
Use a disinfecting spray in your shoes, similar to what is used at a bowling alley. Keep your feet dry as much as possible. Change your footwear to ensure that it allows your feet to breathe. Don't wear the same pair of shoes every day. Sprinkle baking soda in your shoes to kill bacteria. Apply a zinc and castor oil cream daily after washing the feet. Before washing your socks, turn them inside out to allow the dead flakes of skin to wash away more easily.
Soak your feet for 20 minutes in warm, salt water. Or add a little bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak your feet for five to 10 minutes a day for one week. If this solution dries your skin too much, try adding a little baby oil to it before soaking. Add a spoonful of baking soda for every quart of water. This solution makes it difficult for bacteria to grow.
Causes of Athlete’s Foot
■ Tight shoes, especially if they are plastic-lined
■ Excessive sweat
■ Wetness for long periods
■ A minor skin or nail injury can also cause this condition
Doctors say that it is better to apply prescribed anti-fungal powders or creams along with oral medicines
■ Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water and dry the area carefully and completely. Try to do this at least twice a day
■ To widen and keep the web space (area between the toes) dry, use lamb’s wool
■ Wear clean cotton socks. Change your socks and shoes as often as needed to keep your feet dry
■ Wear sandals at a public shower or pool
■ Use antifungal or drying powders to prevent Athlete’s Foot if you tend to get it often, or you frequent places like public showers
■ Wear shoes that are well-ventilated and made of natural material such as leather. It may also help to alternate the shoes each day, so they can completely dry between use. Avoid wearing plastic-lined shoes.