What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection of skin (frequently affects the skin of the feet and so named) and causes itching of the affected area, scale formation and flaking of the skin. Athlete’s Foot is also known by names tinea pedis, Hong Kong Foot and ringworm of the foot.

What is the causative agent of Athlete’s Foot?

The most common fungus involved in causation of Athlete’s Foot is trichophyton genus of fungus.

How Athlete’s Foot is transmitted?

The disease is usually transmitted by walking barefoot in moist areas such as bath house, showers or in the field. The fungal infection of foot may spread to other parts of the body such as groin (known as tinea corporis), body or limbs (known as jock itch or dhobi itch), head (tinea capitis) etc.

What are the signs and symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?

Most important and common symptoms of Athlete’s Foot are itching, flaking and scaling of the areas of the skin affected. Blisters may occur in the skin which may lead to pain and inflammation of the skin and exposure of raw area of the skin after blister bursts. The fungus infection may be accompanied by secondary bacterial infection.

The infection most commonly affects the areas in between the toes and most commonly affected is the area between the 4th and 5th toes.

Diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot:

The diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot is usually not difficult and in most cases proper inspection and presence of common symptoms such as itching, presence of scale or flake can help in diagnosis of the disease. In case of doubt (may be confused with eczema or psoriasis) microscopic examination of scrapings from the affected area in potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation can clinch the diagnosis and clear doubt. On rare occasions the microscopic examination of scrapings from the affected area in potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation may show false negative result if antifungal antibiotics are administered prior to microscopic examination. In such cases biopsy of the affected area can diagnose the disease.

In diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot Wood Lamp (used for diagnosis of tinea capitis) is not helpful as common dermatophytes causing Athlete’s Foot are not fluorescent under ultraviolet light.

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1 Comment

  • Francis November 09, 2012 06.07 am

    Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that mostly affect the feet. Despite typical of the feet, it can affect other parts of the body. It does mean that athlete’s foot is contagious. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 

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