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Saturday, 8 March 2008

Athlete's Foot

What? Athlete's foot?? sound nice is the term but when one comes to understand what exactly it is, you'll be freaked out of it =p
No doubt, this term indicates a medical pathology. Its medical term is tinea pedis, a fungal infection which is very common in tropical and subtropical countries, especially in the summer and the monssonn than in the winter. Men are more frequently affected than women.

What is the causes?
The body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body. And others may, under certain conditions, multiply rapidly and cause infections. Athlete's foot occurs when a particular type of fungus grows and multiplies in your feer (especially between your toes) or less commonly, your hands. These fungi thrive in warm and moist areas. Your risk for getting athlete's foot increases if you:
-Wear closed shoes, especially if they are plastic-lined.
- Keep your feet wet for prolonged periods of time
- Sweat a lot
- Develop a minor skin or nail injury
- Athlete's foot is contagious, and can be passes through direct contact, or contact with items such as shoes, stockings and shower or pool surfaces.
Athlete's foot is a communucable disease. It can be transmitted from person to person in moist environments where people walk barefoot, such as showers, bath houses, and locker rooms. It can be transmitted by sharing footwear with an infected person, or less commonly, by sharing towels with an infected person.

How does it look like?
Lesions may appear as isolated vesiculo-pustules, or bullae, or as patches of erythema and oedema with a scattering of vesicles and pustules, the vesicles may develop into ulcers. Oozing is slight. It is accompanied by intense itching and burning. Secondary infection results in pain, lymphangitis and regional lymphadenitis. This variety has the appearance of an eczematoid or pompholyx eruption. Auto- sensitization produces an ide eruption (which resembles dyshidrosis from which it must be differentiated) on the palms of hands, and, may be, the, other parts of the body as well.

How does it diagnose?
Although athlete's foot can usually be diagnosed by visual inspection of the skin, the diagnosis should always include direct microscopy of a potassium hydroxide preparation (known as a KOH test) at the start of treatment to rule out other possible causes, such as eczema or psoriasis. A KOH preparation is performed on skin scrapings from the affected area. The KOH preparation has an excellent positive predictive value, but occasionally false negative results may be obtained, especially if treatment with an anti-fungal medication has already begun.

What is the best treatment available?
Over-the-counter antifungal powders or creams can help control the infection. These generally contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate. Continue using the medicine for 1 - 2 weeks after the infection has cleared from your feet to prevent the infection from returning.

In addition:
- Keep your feet clean and dry, especially between your toes.
- Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water and dry the area very carefully and completely. Try to do this at least twice a day.
- Wear clean, cotton socks and change your socks and shoes as often as necessary to keep your feet dry.
Athlete's foot almost always responds well to self-care, although it may come back.
Severe, ongoing infections that don't respond to 2 - 4 weeks of self-care, and frequently recurring athlete's foot, may require further treatment by your health care provider. Stronger, prescription antifungal medications may be needed. These include topical medicines, like ketoconazole or terbinafine, and pills. Antibiotics may be necessary to treat secondary bacterial infections that occur in addition to the fungus (for example, from scratching).

Last but not least, Prevention is better than cure =)
To prevent it, it is important to
--> Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing or swimming.
--> Wear sandals or flip-flops at a public shower or pool.
--> Change your socks often to keep your feet dry. This should be done at least once a day.
--> Use antifungal or drying powders to prevent athlete's foot if you are susceptible to getting it, or you frequent areas where athlete's foot fungus is common (like public showers).
--> Wear shoes that are well ventilated and, preferably, made of natural material such as leather. It may help to alternate shoes each day, so they can dry completely between wearings. Avoid plastic-lined shoes.

Stay healthy. The groundwork of all happiness is healthy! =)

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