Athlete’s foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth. Not all fungus conditions are athlete’s foot. Other conditions, such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema, and psoriasis, may mimic athlete’s foot.
The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are also breeding grounds for fungi. Because the infection was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently, the term “athlete’s foot” became popular.
The signs of athlete’s foot, singly or combined, include the following:
Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere. The organisms causing athlete’s foot may persist for long periods. Consequently, the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing to other parts of the body.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
If an apparent fungus condition does not respond to proper foot hygiene and there is no improvement within two weeks, consult a podiatrist.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your podiatrist will determine if a fungus is the cause of the problem. If it is, a specific treatment plan, including the prescription of antifungal medication, applied topically or taken by mouth, will usually be suggested. Such a treatment appears to provide better resolution of the problem when the patient observes the course of treatment prescribed by the podiatrist; if it’s shortened, failure of the treatment is common.
Fungicidal and fungistatic chemicals, used for athlete’s foot treatment, frequently fail to contact the fungi in the horny layers of the skin. Topical or oral antifungal drugs are prescribed with growing frequency. If the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, such as penicillin, may be prescribed.
It is important to keep the feet dry by dusting foot powder in shoes and hose. The feet should be bathed frequently and all areas around the toes dried thoroughly. If someone in your family develops athlete’s foot, disinfect home showers and tubs after each use to discourage transmission of infection.
It is not easy to prevent athlete’s foot because it is usually contracted in dressing rooms, showers, and swimming pool locker rooms where bare feet come in contact with the fungus. However, you can do much to prevent infection by practicing good foot hygiene:
If our teeth ache, most of us will head quickly to the dentist for treatment. But if your feet hurt, do you just chalk up the pain as a discomfort of modern life? Sadly, most of us do. Most Americans say they have foot pain at least some of the time, and more of us have pain in our feet than in any other part of our bodies we consider vital to health, such as skin, teeth, or even the heart, according to a 2012 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Yet feet rank lowest on the list of body parts and functions that Americans consider important to their health, the APMA study shows.
Additionally, many Americans don’t seek foot care from a podiatrist—a doctor specially trained to care for feet. “Foot health directly affects the quality of our lives,” says Catherine Hudson, DPM, a podiatrist at the Foot and Ankle Center and APMA member. “When our feet are healthy, feeling good, and working well, they can enable us to go about our normal routines. But injured, ill, or just plain sore feet can undermine the foundation of our good health.”
Feet are often indicators of our overall health; signs of arthritis, diabetes, and nerve and circulatory problems can all be detected in the feet. People suffering from foot pain are also more likely to suffer from a variety of other health issues, including back, knee, and joint pain, and weight and heart problems.
So how do you know if your foot pain is just annoying, or serious enough to merit a visit to a podiatrist? “Persistent pain or sudden, severe pain should definitely raise warning bells,” says Catherine. “Beyond that, keep in mind that there are many sources of foot pain, and many foot ailments that can be treated best by a podiatrist.” These conditions can include:
Today’s podiatrist is a true expert, trained to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. The country’s 15,000 practicing podiatrists work in a variety of disciplines, from sports medicine and pediatrics, to dermatology and diabetes. Podiatrists can:
provide complete medical histories and physical exams;
set breaks and treat sports-related injuries;
prescribe and fit appliances, insoles, and custom-made shoes;
order and provide physical therapy;
order and interpret X-rays and other imaging scans; and
work as a member of your health-care team
Catherine Hudson, DPM, is a podiatrist at Foot & Ankle Center in Marrero, LA. Call 504-349-6633 or visit http://footandanklenola.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.
Is this the first time you have visited a podiatrist? Well, don’t worry. This handy guide will prepare you for your appointment and help make the most of your time with the foot and ankle expert.
Before Your Visit:
Make a list of your symptoms and questions.
Make a list of all medications and any previous surgeries.
Gather and bring important medical records and laboratory test reports from other doctors or hospitals (including X-rays, MRIs, and lab results).
Check with your insurance provider to see if a referral is needed.
Call before your visit to tell the office if you have special needs.
Bring a friend or family member if you think it will be helpful.
If your problem involves walking and/or exercise, bring your walking/exercise shoes with you to the appointment.
During Your Visit:
Go over your list of questions.
If you do not understand an answer, be sure to ask for further explanation.
Take notes and listen carefully.
Discuss your symptoms and any recent changes you may have noticed.
Talk about all new medications.
Ask why it has been prescribed, and how to take it.
Describe any allergies.
Tell your podiatrist if you are pregnant or if you are trying to get pregnant.
Let your podiatrist know if you are being treated by other doctors.
After Your Visit:
Prepare for any tests your podiatrist orders.
Ask about what you need to do to get ready, possible side effects, and when you can expect results.
Ask when and how the test results will be made available to you.
Schedule a follow-up appointment (if necessary) before you leave your podiatrist’s office.
Call your podiatrist’s office and ask for your test results if you do not hear from the office when you are supposed to.
If you’ve hurt your foot or ankle, it’s best to err on the side of caution. The acronym RICE can help you remember what to do:
Rest—Rest the affected area. Stay off the injured foot or ankle until it can be fully evaluated. Walking, running, or playing sports on an injured foot or ankle may make the injury worse.
Ice—Apply ice to the affected area as soon as possible, and reapply it for 15–20 minutes every three or four hours for the first 48 hours after injury. Ice can decrease inflammation.
Compression—Wrap an elastic bandage (such as an Ace® wrap) around the affected foot or ankle. The wrapping should be snug, but not so tight as to cut off circulation.
Elevation—Elevate the affected extremity on a couple of pillows; ideally, your foot or ankle should be higher than your heart. Keeping your foot or ankle elevated also decreases swelling.
If pain, swelling, bruising, redness, or difficulty walking continue, it’s time to see us.
Climbing the corporate ladder requires marketable skills, initiative, creativity, and … the right shoes? While the importance of proper footwear may seem obvious for professions that require standing or walking all day, such as waitressing, nursing, or cooking, poor shoe choices can also trip you up in an office setting.
“At best, sore feet can be a troublesome distraction when you need to concentrate in a meeting or be at your best during a job interview,” says Catherine Hudson, DPM, a podiatrist at Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “At worst, severe foot injuries from poor footwear can require corrective surgery that puts you out of commission—and out of the office—for extended periods of time.”
While you may assume that some professions are more prone to injury than others, or that women wearing high heels are more at risk, everyone working nine to five should take steps to ensure he or she heads to work every morning wearing shoes that will help—not hinder—job performance.
When you’re choosing a dress shoe for work, keep these tips in mind:
Shoes for women
Shoes for men
Tips for men and women:
“Never buy a pair of shoes that are uncomfortable, assuming you’ll break them in,” adds Dr. Hudson. “Shoes should be comfortable right away. If they’re not, then they’re not the right shoes for your feet!”
Catherine Hudson, DPM, is a podiatrist at Foot and Ankle Center in Marerro, Louisiana. Call 504-349-6633 or visit http://www.footandanklenola.com/schedule-an-appointment/ to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.
Why should I “knock my socks off” and see a podiatrist?
The feet can reveal diabetes warning signs such as numbness, redness, swelling, or non-healing wounds. Making at least two appointments a year with today’s podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert, to have your feet examined is a critical step in avoiding diabetic foot complications and amputation.
I have been diagnosed with diabetes. What foot complications could I experience?
A loss of feeling in your feet
Foot ulcers or sores that do not heal
Should I talk about diabetes with my community, family, and friends?
Yes! Those with diabetes, as well as those who are at risk, are encouraged to openly discuss the disease with family members because it can affect children and adults alike. Diabetes is often passed down from generation to generation, especially in the Hispanic community. Don’t be embarrassed to talk about it with those closest to you because diabetes is best managed as a team.
What are diabetic ulcers, and how can I prevent them?
Diabetic ulcerations are often one of the first signs of complications from diabetes in the lower leg. These ulcers can stem from a small wound or cut on the foot that is slow to heal. If left untreated, ulcers can become harder to treat and could lead to amputation. If discovered early and treated by a podiatrist, ulcers may not lead to amputation.
Can I still see a podiatrist if I don’t have medical insurance?
Yes! Podiatrists work in health clinics, in addition to private practices, treating patients. Work directly with your podiatrist to create alternative options such as payment plans. Don’t let a lack of insurance keep you from receiving proper foot care.
Is there a special kind of footwear available for those with diabetes?
Yes! Certain types of shoes, socks, and custom orthotics are all created especially for those with diabetes. People with diabetes should never go barefoot and should make sure to keep feet protected to reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes on the feet, which can lead to complications. Medicare may pay for these shoes. Find diabetic footwear that has APMA’s Seal of Acceptance.
PDF Available For Download Here.
Pregnancy is a joyous time in a woman’s life and her body will go through many changes, including changes to her feet. That is why a pregnant woman must take care of her foot health a little differently.
It’s amazing how a body changes during pregnancy. For instance, did you know that a pregnant woman’s feet become wider and longer because her ligaments become more easily stretched to prepare for childbirth? The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) shares common pregnancy symptoms along with tips and tricks to keep your feet healthy until you finally meet your little one.
Read more in our Special Edition March Footprints Newsletter here.
Dr. Elliott, president of the Louisiana Podiatric Medical Association, is in Washington, D.C. this week making positive changes for the podiatry profession.
The American Podiatric Medical Association’s 95th House of Delegates meeting convened in Washington, DC, on Saturday, March 21. The meeting opened with addresses from staff and member leaders. Glenn B. Gastwirth, DPM, executive director and CEO, set the tone for the meeting by encouraging delegates to “think strategically and be prepared to take bold new steps forward.” He suggested APMA members should be proactive on behalf of the profession by taking steps such as joining the Podiatric Health Section of the American Public Health Association and using APMA’s eAdvocacy system to support our Helping Ensure Life- and Limb Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act legislation.
Source: AMPA.Org http://www.apma.org/WorkingForYou/NewsDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=16458