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Making Your Practice More Family Focused

4 Things Diabetics Need To Know About Athlete's Foot

by Monica Reynolds

Tinea pedis, usually called Athlete's foot, is a fungal infection that manifests as itchy, red skin on the bottoms of the feet and between the toes. This contagious condition is just an annoyance for people with no other medical conditions, but for people with diabetes, Athlete's foot can lead to serious health problems. Here are four things diabetics need to know about this condition.

What causes Athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus. The same fungus causes other skin conditions such as jock itch and ringworm. It spreads from person either from skin-to-skin contact or from contact with fungus-infected surfaces. The fungus can spread to surfaces like locker room floors, shower stalls, and pool areas. The fungus grows best in moist, wet environments like inside sweaty shoes, and this is why it's called "Athlete's foot".

Why is Athlete's foot serious for diabetics?

Athlete's foot, like other foot conditions, is potentially dangerous for diabetics due to the risk of complications. These complications include serious foot problems like ulcers, bone infections, and gangrene — which can lead to foot amputation.

Athlete's foot is potentially dangerous for diabetics for a couple of reasons. Diabetes damages the nerves in your feet, and when this happens, it's hard or even impossible for you to realize your feet are injured. You may not even feel the discomfort associated with Athlete's foot, and if an ulcer forms, you may not feel that, either. This makes it possible for the situation to get quite serious without you realizing it.

Diabetes also damages the blood vessels in your feet and legs, and this damage impairs the circulation in your feet. Good blood circulation is important for healing and for fighting infections, so if you do develop an ulcer, it won't heal as well as it otherwise would and is more likely to become infected. This infection can spread to the bones, and if it can't be controlled, foot amputation may be the result.

How is Athlete's foot treated?

There are many home remedies and over-the-counter treatments available for Athlete's foot, but when you have diabetes, you should steer clear of these methods. Athlete's foot can lead to serious complications, so it should be managed and treated by a podiatrist. Your podiatrist can monitor your feet to make sure the Athlete's foot isn't developing into anything more serious.

Podiatrists use antifungal medications to treat the condition. These antifungals may be contained in topical creams, but they can also be given to you in pill form. You may be given a combination of antifungal medications to try to speed up the treatment time, since getting rid of Athlete's foot can be a slow process.

How can diabetics prevent Athlete's foot?

The easiest way to prevent Athlete's foot is to always wear shoes, especially when you're walking around in public places like pools, gyms, and even hotel rooms. It's also a good idea to wear shoes inside your house. This is especially important if someone in your household has Athlete's foot.

Make sure to wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly afterwards. Make sure to dry between your toes! You also need to make sure that your socks are dry, so if you've been exercising or are sweating, put on a dry pair of socks soon afterwards.

If you have diabetes, you need to do your best to avoid getting Athlete's foot. Make sure to always keep your shoes on in public areas where the fungus could be lurking, and monitor your feet regularly for signs of Athlete's foot. If you see red, flaky skin, see your podiatrist immediately.

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