It’s the universal cry for help. And in this case, it’s also a blog topic written in the beginning of May, when we in NYC may hope for an end to “the long cold lonely winter”, as George Harrison so eloquently phrased it. And just as the rest of our bodies bask in the glow of the springtime sun, so do our feet and the various seen and unseen creatures who inhabit the dark crevices and warm recesses of our pedal units. Yes, it’s time to prepare for the onslaught of the little yellow fungal monsters whose prime breeding season is just around the corner. Continuing the theme started last week with ingrown nails, let’s talk about athlete’s foot (yes and yuck).
“But I’m not an athlete”
Well my friend, no need to be a Tough Mudder, Spartan or even one of those rucksack guys- this infection is for the couch potatoes too. Our feet are a great breeding ground for fungus, which likes warm, wet places, such as in-between toes, under arms, shoes, showers, and other dark places. As the weather warms up and the feet sweat, the fungi, which can lay dormant as very hearty spores for a long time, proliferate in any wet, warm area. Usually this appears as wet areas between the toes, peeling on the bottom of the feet, red patches, or small blisters on the bottom of the feet, and can make the feet itch and burn, although many times the infection produces no symptoms beyond the physical signs.
Treatment consists of the use of a good antifungal cream, gel, spray or powder for the recommended period of time, usually 2-4 weeks. Any of these delivery methods works well, and many over the counter products are just as good as prescription items. Remember that our skin turns over every thirty days, so if the infection hasn’t cleared in that period of time it’s appropriate to rethink the treatment or the diagnosis.
Then there’s prevention. Keep those tootsies dry, people! Dry between the toes very well, and don’t put socks on wet feet. Sterilize any surface which the feet regularly contact, such as shoes and shower, both of which can be cleaned easily with Lysol spray. A little antifungal powder can go a long way. And despite all these measures, there seem to be people whom the fungus just seems to like, leading to chronic recurrent infections which can be managed using the above listed treatments.
So if you get the Summertime Blues from fungal feet, shuffle on over to your NYC podiatrist for some treatment, and a little common sense.
See you in the office.
Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson