One thing we stress to all our patients is this: if your feet are looking or feeling wrong—pain, itchiness, irritation, etc.—you should always take it seriously.
Yes, that includes athlete’s foot!
Although you might be tempted to shrug off this condition as a “minor nuisance,” the truth is that you have a fungus living on you and damaging your skin! Even worse, untreated athlete’s foot can not only become more painful and severe, but can even spread to other parts of your body, including your nails.
In other words, by not acting quickly, your 1-month-to-treat athlete’s foot problem became a fungal toenail infection that may take more than a year to fully clear up!
There’s more bad news. Like many other foot conditions, athlete’s foot may appear visually similar to many other types of conditions. You might think you just have excessively dry skin, but actually have a much more serious infection. (The opposite is also true.)
That’s just one more reason why you always need to take skin problems with your feet seriously. Diagnosing and treating them quickly and effectively will help you keep your skin and nails healthy, beautiful, and comfortable. And this is something that Dr. Pardis Kelly can absolutely help you with!
The first step, of course, is figuring out whether your skin problem really is athlete’s foot, or something else entirely. And that can be tricky! We’ve got a few images that can help you.
Athlete’s foot usually presents itself as a scaly, reddish rash. Areas most commonly affected include the soles of the feet (especially for the “moccasin” type of athlete’s foot), the tops of your feet, and the spaces between your toes. The itchiness you feel is often, although not always, at its worst right after taking off your socks.
With severe athlete’s foot, you may even develop blisters or ulcers.
Here’s a quick image of someone with athlete’s foot. Notice both the scaly appearance of the skin and the reddish rash around the borders of the dry skin.
Some conditions that often get confused for athlete’s foot (or vice versa) include:
Eczema is a condition that impairs your skin’s ability to retain moisture and defend against irritants like bacteria or allergies. It’s thought to be genetic, tends to run in families, and can flare up suddenly after being dormant for a long time (even years).
Because eczema can sometimes produce nearly identical symptoms to athlete’s foot, telling them apart with 100% certainty may not be possible without examining a skin sample under a microscope.
However, in addition to scaly red rashes and itchiness, eczema may also appear with small, raised bumps that may even leak fluid. Eczema can also appear all over the body (not just the feet) and is often itchiest at night.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, also likely genetic, which triggers skin cells to grow much faster than normal. This causes them to pile up on the surface of your skin.
Here’s a good example:
Although both psoriasis and athlete’s foot can cause dry skin, itchiness, and pain, the “scales” caused by psoriasis tend to be much more whitish or silvery in color, as opposed to the reddish or brownish hue of athlete’s foot (and eczema).
Of course, it’s also possible that you just have “ordinary” dry skin, which would be the best-case scenario.
To be clear, that doesn’t mean dry skin is necessarily harmless! Dry skin can lead to severe cracking and fissuring that’s not only painful, but in some cases can bleed or develop infections—a real problem for people with diabetes in particular.
Furthermore, if you already have eczema, simple dry skin may sometimes trigger a stronger flare-up of the disease.
Even though all these conditions appear very similar on the outside—and in some cases may have very similar symptoms—they are extremely different problems, with very different implications for prevention, treatment, and management.
Athlete’s foot should demand your attention because, unlike the other conditions on this list, it’s the only one that is contagious. A fungal infection can easily spread to other parts of your body, your toenails, and even other people you live with.
The other side of that coin, however, is that athlete’s foot can also be cured by eliminating the fungus living on your skin. That doesn’t mean you won’t get re-infected later if you aren’t careful, but at the very least you can get rid of it with treatment and prevention!
Most mild-to-moderate athlete’s foot cases can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams, used as directed. Complete the full treatment course on the label! Don’t be tempted to quit using your cream early because your symptoms improved, or the infection will probably roar back to life.
If home treatments don’t help or don’t last long, give us a call.
Simply dry skin is also usually easy to manage at home, by applying a moisturizer to your feet every day and avoiding environmental triggers (like long and hot showers, harsh soaps or detergents, etc.) But do come see us if dry skin remains a constant problem, especially if there’s pain.
With psoriasis and eczema, unfortunately there is currently no known cure. However, if you suspect these conditions, please come see us or your primary care doctor as soon as you can. We can help you build a treatment strategy to help you manage the flare-ups and remain as comfortable as possible.
In the middle of a world-wide pandemic, you might be wondering whether simple skin irritation is worth calling your foot doctor about.
While we understand feeling that way, you still shouldn’t have to wait for answers for your constant pain and irritation. And with many of these conditions, catching and dealing with the problem early will keep it from reaching a more serious stage of infection and pain.
We are offering telemedicine appointments to our patients with non-urgent needs. That can be an excellent choice if you’re concerned about your skin condition and would like Dr. Kelly to make a visual inspection, but aren’t comfortable leaving your home just yet.
Based on what we learn from the telemedicine appointment, we may either recommend you start up a treatment plan at home, or that you stop by our office so we can take a closer look.
Please be assured that we are taking every possible precaution to keep our office as healthy and safe as possible during this time—fully sanitizing/disinfecting rooms, chairs, and surfaces after every patient, wearing masks, limiting the number of people in the office at a time, and more.
The first step, though, is making the call to our office so you can start to get some answers and a real plan for effective treatment! Reach our Las Vegas office at 702-605-6220, or contact us online.