Diabetic-Related Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot (or Foot Fungus) Is Often Mistaken For Dry Feet

Athlete’s foot is a common, fungal skin infection we see in our diabetic patients. A majority of cases begin between the toes and spread to the bottom of the feet.

Anyone can get athlete’s foot, but it is more severe for a diabetic. Naturally, patients with diabetes have a weaker circulatory system along with an impaired immune system. This causes a higher risk for infection. Athlete’s foot is a concern for diabetics because their skin lacks hydration, making dry skin prominent.

Athlete’s Foot Causes

Athlete’s foot is caused from fungus growing on the top layer of your skin. It is contagious and you can get it from touching the affected area of a person who has it, and more commonly, from contaminated surfaces such as damp floors in public showers or locker rooms.

Many diabetics confuse athlete’s foot as being dry skin on their feet. Because athlete’s foot has similar characteristics to dry skin such as peeling, cracking redness, blisters, breakdown of the skin, itching and burning, it is understandable as to why these two conditions can be confused.  If untreated, athlete’s foot can lead to a severe bacterial infection of the foot and leg.

Risk Factors

  • Men are more susceptible than women
  • Having athlete’s foot before
  • An impaired immune system
  • Living in a warm, damp climate
  • More common in adults than children

Depending on the severity of the fungus, athlete’s foot can lead to blisters, cracked skin and open wounds. With a diabetic foot, a wound as minor as a blister can cause a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, which causes healing time for injuries to be slower.

Diabetes also enables infections to spread quickly, which is a concern as it is one of the most common complications of the diabetic foot. If an infection becomes too severe there can be extreme consequences, even as far as amputation.

Prevent Athlete’s Foot from Occurring

You CAN prevent athlete’s foot from happening. A major prevention tip is to keep your feet dry and examine them each day. Fungus thrives in warm, damp areas.

Also, wear shoes or sandals that allow your feet to breath. Having a tight fit prevents moisture from escaping and creates an opportune place for fungus to live. It will also help to stay away from cotton socks! Cotton socks actually ABSORB your sweat and are slow to dry. If you wear cotton socks and don’t change them at least twice a day you can provoke blisters and provide a moist area for fungi to grow.

Bamboo socks are a great, eco-friendly alternative. Bamboo socks are woven from bamboo viscose fibers, which help pull moisture away from your feet. They also feel soft against the skin, repel odors-and contain antibacterial properties!

Socks that are specifically created with diabetics in mind are the best way to go though. Often they combine a high performance, moisture-wicking blend that also has compression qualities.

If you are going to enjoy a day in the sun around the pool, wear sandals in public damp areas such as the pool deck, locker room and public showers.

If you happen to get athlete’s foot, the good news is that it is treatable. Antifungal medicines are used on the skin as a first choice of treatment. These can be provided in prescription and nonprescription forms. If your case is severe enough, your doctor may prescribe oral antifungals. When treating athlete’s foot, it is critical that you use the full course of the medicine. If you stop taking the treatment because you see an improvement, there is a chance the fungi will return.

While patients with athlete’s foot are more prone to contracting it again, if you follow the preventative steps of cleaning your feet, making sure they are dry and checking your feet daily, your chances will decrease. You should also integrate a natural skin care line into your daily regimen that has both antifungal and antibacterial properties, like FungaSoap.



If you are experiencing foot pain, call our office or make an online appointment


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