Tinea Pedis – fugal infections of the foot

What is tinea pedis?

Tinea pedis is a fungal infection of the soles of the feet or interdigital spaces. It occurs as the result of overpopulation of the dermatophyte fungi. Tinea pedis is commonly experienced by those living in hot and humid areas. It spreads via human contact with infected people. Tinea pedis may be accompanied by other conditions, like tinea cruris (infection of the groin), tinea manuum (infection of the hand, dominant hand) or onychomycosis (infection of the nails).

What causes tinea pedis?

The dermatophytes are typically found on any healthy individual’s skin – they occur in our environment and they live on our skins. Trichophyton rubrum is the most common strain of dermatophyte bacteria causing this particular type of infection. It is estimated to be responsible for around two-thirds of all tinea pedis cases. There are a number of reasons this fungus can overpopulate and result in an infection.

  • Dermatophytes thrive in areas like: Public locker rooms, public swimming pools, showers and other sporting facilities that provide damp moist conditions.
  • Occlusive footwear – this provides the perfect warm and moist environment for the bacteria to thrive.
  • Tinea pedis is contagious, therefore, it can spread via touch.
  • Broken skin or open wounds will make your feet more susceptible to the condition.
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, may increase the risk of contracting fungal infections.

What are the symptoms of tinea pedis?

Tinea pedis can affect any part of the foot. Commonly, the soles or instep, the top of the feet and the spaces (webs) between the toes, especially between the 4th and 5th toes or 3rd and 4th.

  • Cracked, peeling or blistering skin between the toes.
  • Itching that is quite intense, around the feet.
  • Red discolouration of the skin.
  • Scaling on the soles of the feet.
  • Pus-filled pimples and blisters that can pop and ulcerate.
  • The scaly and white soggy area between the toes with fissures and cracks.
  • If the infection spreads to the toenails, they may grow thicker and appear to be yellow and cloudy.

tinea pedis

How is tinea pedis diagnosed?

Dr Khoza will evaluate your symptoms and ask you questions about your habits, like whether or not you visit public swimming pools or wear closed shoes daily. Tinea pedis is recognisable based on the physical symptoms presented. Dr Khoza will also examine your feet closely, looking at the physical symptoms. She will also check to see if the condition has spread to the nails.

Dr Khoza may take a skin sample or a sample of the nail. She sends the sample away to a laboratory for a concrete diagnosis. This allows us to pinpoint exactly which strain of dermatophytes are affecting you. Therefore, once this is established, treatment is simple. It is a matter of selecting the most appropriate fungicidal medication.

How is tinea pedis treated?

We apply topical treatments that contain fungicidal elements, first. Common fungicidal agents in the topical creams include:

  • Clotrimazole
  • Econazole
  • Ketoconazole
  • Miconazole
  • Naftifine
  • Oxiconazole
  • Sulconazole
  • Terbinafine
  • Terconazole
  • Tolnaftate

We may need to implement the treatment for extended periods, especially relevant if the condition has persisted for some time. Symptoms may resolve thanks to topical treatments despite the bacteria still overpopulating, which means a recurrent infection is likely to occur. To cure the infection, oral fungicidal medications may be necessary for a deep and effective result.

Reinfection is always possible, therefore it is important to take precautionary measures. Remain vigilant of risk factors for developing these conditions.

Preventing reinfection

  • Ensure you dry your feet thoroughly after bathing, you can use a hair dryer for this, especially between the toes.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in warm moist environments – especially around public showers or swimming pools – rather wear slippers or sandals.
  • Wear cotton socks if you wear occlusive footwear (closed shoes).
  • Avoid occlusive footwear if possible – if it is not possible, try to give each pair of shoes at least 24 hours between use to allow the shoe to dry out properly.
  • Apply foot powder to your feet to keep them dry.
  • Apply an antifungal powder to your shoes to prevent fungal bacteria from breeding there.

Dr Khoza treats the skin as part of the body, considering how conditions of the skin may affect the rest of the body and how deep-rooted conditions may present as skin disorders. This means a thorough resolution delivers relief and sustained health. Book your consultation with Dr Khoza – so that you can face the day with confidence.