As our long, hot summer draws (hopefully slowly) to a close, Sally-Anne Mulliner of Feet… the Foot Health Clinic based in Leek explains what’s been happening to many feet this summer.
IN JULY of this year I had a stand at the Leek Show.
I run a foot clinic in Leek and on the stand I was offering a free foot check to anyone with any concerns about their feet.
I was amazed at the incidence of athlete’s foot. I would say that well over 60% of the people I saw were suffering from some form of the condition. Albeit that some were minor cases, some were severe!
Anyone can develop athlete’s foot, but it is more common in men and teenagers.
Children under 12 years of age rarely develop the condition.
We’ve had some extraordinarily hot weather this summer, weather that for many of us has not been experienced other than on a summer holiday.
Many people that I’ve seen told me that they were bathing more …… but how have our feet fared?
Athlete's foot (also known as ringworm of the foot and tinea pedis) is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itching of affected areas, often starting between the toes. Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection.
Everyone has bacteria and fungi on their skin. Most of the time they are harmless and do not cause problems.
However, at certain times – for example in moist, warm conditions – the fungi can grow and multiply, causing your skin to become infected.
A group of fungi called dermatophytes is responsible for athlete’s foot.
These fungi feed off other organisms to survive.
Your feet provide a warm, dark and humid environment.
These are ideal conditions for dermatophytes to grow.
Athlete's foot spreads easily.
It can be passed from person to person through contaminated towels, clothing or surfaces.
The fungi multiply in warm and humid places such as showers, swimming pools and changing rooms.
Signs and symptoms Athlete's foot causes scaling, flaking, and itching of the affected skin.
Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw tissue, pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Secondary bacterial infection can accompany the fungal infection, sometimes requiring a course of oral antibiotics.
Preventing athlete's foot It is not always possible to prevent athlete’s foot. However, good foot hygiene can reduce your risk of developing the condition.
The best way to prevent athlete’s foot is to always practise good foot hygiene.
The following steps will help keep your feet clean and hygienic:
· Wash your feet thoroughly every day, paying particular attention to the areas between your toes.
· Reduce foot perspiration by using a medicated talcum powder on your feet.
· Avoid wearing tight-fitting footwear, particularly during the summer. Flip flops and open sandals are ideal to allow the foot to breathe and inhibit the multiplication of bacteria.
· If you wear socks, opt for cotton ones.
· Do not put on socks, tights or stockings before your feet are completely dry.
· Change your socks, stockings or tights regularly.
· If possible, wear pool slippers or flip-flops in communal changing rooms or shower areas.
· Alternating footwear can help ensure that you wear dry shoes at all times. If you wear work boots, give them a quick blast with a cool hair dryer to ensure that they are dry.
· Avoid borrowing shoes to lower the risk of spreading the infection.
· Wash your towels and bedding frequently.
Treatment Most cases of athlete’s foot are mild and can be treated at home. This type of fungal infection usually responds quickly to treatment.
Without medication, athlete's foot resolves in 30–40% of cases and topical antifungal medication consistently produce much higher percentages of cures.
If athlete's foot is not treated, the infection may spread to your toenails, causing a fungal nail infection, or other areas of your body, such as the palms of your hands.
So, if you think you may be suffering from Athlete’s foot, use the self-care techniques listed above along with a twice daily application of antifungal medication.
Antifungal medication works by killing the fungi that are causing your infection.
This type of medicine is available in several different forms including creams, sprays, liquids and powders.
Topical antifungal medicines, which are applied directly to the area being treated, are widely available from pharmacies without a prescription.
At Feet … I am always happy to inspect and give free advice on foot care should you require.
I am located within the denture studio on the bus station platform in Leek tel 07887 717304.