What is Tinea ?
Tinea is a fungal infection that can affect the skin on the feet. The fungi that cause tinea in the feet are called dermatophytes. Fungal infections thrive in dark, warm moist environments like in your shoes! It can also be referred to as athletes foot. It may present in different ways on different areas of the foot including between the toes as an itchy red scaly rash (most common) or even as fluid filled blisters in the arch of the foot. It is impossible to tell for sure if a rash or blisters on the foot is definitely tinea without confirmation by way of a pathology test.
What are the symptoms of Tinea ?
- Itchy feet
- Red scaly rash
- Flaky skin
- Fluid filled blisters
- Maceration or splitting of the skin especially between the toes
- Pulled "taught" type appearance of the skin under the toes
What are the Treatment choices for Tinea ?
There are many different treatments on the market for tinea. It is important that you speak with either your podiatrist and / or pharmacist to decide which one is best for you.
A common tinea treatment is "Daktarin Cream" which is a topical medication that contains Miconazole Nitrate. It is recommended to apply the cream twice daily for two to four weeks. The advantage of this cream is that it is relatively cheap however you must remember to apply twice daily until the symptoms disappear and then for another two weeks to make sure you kill the fungal spores to help prevent re-occurrence. Another possible treatment choice is a product called "Lamasil Once" which contains Terbinafine Hydrochloride. The advantage of this treatment is that you only have to apply it once as the name suggests (sometimes you may need to re-apply) however it is more expensive than the twice daily type medications. For severe cases your general practitioner may prescribe an oral medication such as Lamasil Oral.
Please refer to the patient information supplied with these medications and/or speak with your podiatrist, general practitioner or pharmacist to decide if any of these medications are appropriate for your problem.
What can you do to help prevent Tinea ?To help prevent fungal infections of your feet you should:
- Keep your feet clean and dry
- Maintain good foot hygiene
- Wear clean socks every day
- Avoid walking bare footed in common change/bathing areas
- Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing (especially between the toes)
- Wear socks made of natural materials that wick the moisture away from the feet
- Reduce excessive foot perspiration by using a specialized foot spray
- Treat any fungal nail infections as these are a ready source of reinfection
If tinea of the feet is left unchecked you may develop a fungal toenail infection which is much more difficult to treat. Also if the skin becomes broken either from being macerated or from you scratching the itchy skin you may develop a bacterial infection as well as the fungal infection. The medications for tinea (even the ones that are available across the counter at the pharmacy or so called natural medications) can have side effects. Remember that tinea can mimic other more serious conditions so if it is best to get professional advice.