Your feet always encounter infection-causing bacteria and fungus, regardless of how clean they are. So because this week is Fungal Disease Awareness Week, in today’s post Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, is sharing information regarding 4 of the most common fungal infections of the foot, including how to recognize them
While fungal foot infections can be difficult to treat, they're seldom life-threatening. Let’s look at some of the most common ones.
- Athlete's Foot: If you have a flaky, itchy rash between your toes, it's probably athlete's foot. This type of infection is caused by numerous fungi, including those associated with ringworm.
Fungus thrives in moist environments, typically saunas, sweaty shoes and socks, and gyms. It's extremely contagious and can be easily spread via contaminated towels, clothing, or floors. Most cases of athlete’s foot can be identified by symptoms alone.
More recurrent or serious cases may require a skin scraping. Milder cases can be treated with an over-the-counter antifungal spray or cream. More persistent or serious infections may need to be treated with oral antifungal medication.
- Toenail Fungus: A slow-growing fungal infection under the toenail is referred to as onychomycosis. Symptoms of this fungus include yellowish or white discoloration, separation of the nail from the nail bed, and thickened, flaky nails.
This type of fungus typically accompanies athlete's foot. However, it's more widespread in people who have peripheral vascular disease or a weakened immune system. Toenail fungus is diagnosed visually, and cultures from nail trimmings help identify the specific fungus.
This fungus is particularly difficult to treat, in part because topical creams can't infiltrate the nail tissue. Antifungal treatments taken orally tend to work best, but it can take up to a year for a nail to grow back fully.
- Bacterial Foot Infections: These infections are not as common as fungal infections, but in some cases, they can turn serious, leading to a whole-body infection.
Most bacterial infections begin in abrasions or sores. All it needs is a broken outer layer of skin. Your complication possibility may be high due to diabetes, a compromised immune system, or aging.
Bacterial infections cause swollen, painful, red skin and possibly green or yellow pus. The most widespread cause is a staph infection, but other kinds are more common in certain conditions.
- Foot Abscess: When bacterial foot infections go beyond the outer layers of tissue, a pocket of pus known as an abscess develops.
Foot abscesses are often initiated by hair follicle infections or puncture wounds. Abscess symptoms include swelling, warmth, pain, and redness, and are usually diagnosed with a physical exam. In addition, your podiatrist may order a bacterial culture to identify the best antibiotic to kill it.
Treatment of foot abscesses typically includes draining the abscess and topical and/or oral antibiotics for the infection. An OTC medication like Tylenol can diminish fever and pain.
If you think you may have a fungal foot infection, don’t hesitate! Contact Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA, right away to make an appointment. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling us at 425-455-0936.