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Many of us are familiar with the countless skin diseases and infections caused by bacteria and viruses; however, most people are unaware that there is another group of common skin infections caused by fungi.

One of the most common areas for fungal infections to develop is the feet. Fungal infections can be found in the surface layers of skin as well as the nails. The two most common types of fungal infections are Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus. These chronic fungal infections are most often seen in adults.

Causes of foot fungus

Fungi thrive in dark, moist environments. They can grow on the skin between toenails and spread to the toenails themselves. Fungal infections are usually picked up in public areas like locker rooms, swimming pools, and shower stalls. They can spread quickly among teammates and family members.

Certain people are at a higher risk of developing foot fungus, including those with diabetes, an abnormal skin PH level, or a compromised immune system. A prior injury to the nail bed can also increase the risk of fungal infection.

Foot fungus symptoms

Symptoms of fungal growth on the skin include:

  • Burning. 
  • Cracked, bleeding skin. 
  • Itching. 
  • Redness. 
  • Small blisters. 
  • Stinging.

Symptoms of fungal growth in toenails include: 

  • Changes in color (yellowing of nails). 
  • Debris beneath the nails. 
  • Foul odor. 
  • Thickening of nails. 
  • White spots on the nails.

Foot fungus treatment

Foot fungus is difficult to treat. The first part of treatment is designed to make the infected area less suitable for fungal growth. To this end, your doctor will advise you to: 

  • Avoid cutting your toenails too short. 
  • Change your socks frequently throughout the day. 
  • Keep your feet as clean and dry as possible at all times. 
  • Wear shoes that breathe. 
  • Wear shower sandals in public areas.

The second stage of treatment involves battling the infection. Your doctor may recommend antifungal creams or washes. Serious cases of foot fungus are treated with a multi-week course of oral antifungal medication. Your doctor may need to remove part or all of an infected toenail to avoid re-infection of the feet.

Above all, it is important to continue treatment until all of the symptoms have disappeared.

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