Take a look at your calendar. Have you penciled in “Fungal Disease Awareness Week” (September 21-25), or has your online calendar already noted it for you? Well, it may not be the trendiest observance, but it’s something we mark in pen every year on the Clifton Foot & Ankle Center calendar. We want our patients to be aware of the various types of fungal infections that can affect their feet. The two most common are tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) and onychomycosis (fungal nails).
Fungi are everywhere, but they thrive in moist places such as wet pool decks, public shower stalls, nail salons, and even your sweaty socks and shoes. A fungus can infect any part of your foot, with the most common being the spaces between your toes. Fungi survive by feasting on your dead skin cells and causing athlete’s foot: dryness, scaling, itching, and blisters.
The fungus that causes athlete’s foot can spread to your toenails. Other types of fungi may enter the nail through a small crack. Diabetics, someone with a toenail injury, and those with specific blood circulation problems are more susceptible to fungal nail infections. Infected toenails become yellow or brownish, thick, cracked, and crumbly.
The first step in treating fungal infection of the foot is to recognize it, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You might mistake the symptoms of fungal infection for simple irritation or dry skin. Topical creams that you can purchase at the drugstore may be treating the wrong type of infection. Without proper treatment, the infection can spread and be difficult to get rid of.
If you think you’ve got a fungal infection or you’re having trouble conquering one on your own, contact us for a diagnosis and advice on the best treatment, which may include oral anti-fungal medications available only by prescription. Call our Centreville podiatry office at (703) 996-3000 for an appointment with Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm.