Madness for College Basketball – NOT Because of Athlete’s Foot!

No matter if you’ve been watching as many games as possible and tracking your office pool brackets—which are probably a complete mess at this point!—or barely have any interest, it’s almost impossible not to know that the Final Four tips off tomorrow (Saturday 3/31) at 6:09 PM (EST). The second game begins at 8:49, and the winners of the two games will compete for the championship on Monday at 9:20. 

Before we go any further, who actually picks out these times? What’s wrong with starting a game on the hour or at the half-hour mark? 

To this point in the tournament, there have been 64 games and college basketball fans have been treated to countless memorable moments and inspiring upset performances from underdogs – especially the historic first-round UMBC upset over #1-seeded Virginia! 

The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament receives its “March Madness” moniker on account of the unpredictable nature of the games. Teams that “aren’t supposed to” win do all the time in the annual tournament. This makes it rather maddening when you check out your office pool brackets and see that you’ve barely made any correct picks!

 

Something else that can be maddening is a pair of feet that won’t stop itching! In this case, there are several potential culprits, but the most likely explanation is athlete’s foot – a common fungal infection (tinea pedis). 

Athlete’s foot is a condition caused by fungi in a classification known as dermatophytes. These microorganisms thrive in environments that are moist, dark, and warm, and they feed on a protein (keratin) found in nails, hair, and skin. As you can probably gather, this makes your feet an ideal place for the fungi to set up shop. When you feel an itchy, burning sensation on the surface of your foot, you can be quite confident that this is what is happening. 

In spite of the name, this is not a condition that only happens to athletes or as a result of athletic participation. Instead, this is a common fungal infection that usually starts developing between your toes—areas which often create a hospitable environment for the offensive fungus—and then spreads out over the skin of your foot.  

The fungus that causes the athlete’s foot is easily transmitted by contact, even from indirect sources like shoes, towels, and floors. 

The various warning signs of tinea pedis may either be experienced individually or as a combination of symptoms. These often include: 

  • Burning, itching sensations that become increasingly intense as the infection spreads 
  • A red, scaly rash that often accompanies dry skin 
  • Inflammation, blisters, and foot ulcers (in more severe cases) 

Most cases of athlete’s foot—especially those that are mild or caught early—can be effectively treated at home. For a difficult infection, you may need professional assistance. If you do, 

To improve your chances of successful home care for athlete’s foot, you need to recognize the symptoms so that you can tackle it early. Be alert for a red rash, itching, and burning sensations. When you first become aware of these signs, go to a pharmacy or retail store and pick up any version of nonprescription antifungal and use according to the product’s instructions. 

These particular mediations come in a variety of forms (sprays, powders, lotions, etc.) and using various active ingredients. Some of the common ones are clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, and tolnaftate, and they are intended to be used anywhere from one to six weeks.  

For optimal efficacy and preventing the infection from reoccurring, continue using the medication until it is gone, even if symptoms are no longer present. 

Now, the itching and burning can be bad enough when you have a case of athlete’s foot, but knowing that you have passed it along to your family can only make you feel worse. Fortunately, a little effort can help prevent this. 

When it comes to decreasing your odds of passing the infection along to your family, use the following tips to help: 

  • Make sure that your family members do not make direct contact with your feet. 
  • Wear shower shoes or sandals in the bathroom before and after your bath or shower. This will keep the offensive fungi from finding a temporary residence on the floor until they move on to family members’ feet. 
  • Do not share your towels, socks, or shoes with anyone else. 
  • Use antifungal spray or powder on your feet and in your shoes. 

Your risk of developing athlete’s foot is higher at indoor pools. The reason behind this is that athlete’s foot is a contagious infection caused by a fungus, and fungi thrive in warm, damp environments. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to an indoor pool, those conditions exist right there on deck!  

Locker rooms and communal showers are also environments that can be damp and warm. Combine this fact with the various patrons who use the facilities and there is plenty of opportunity for fungi to travel from human to ground to human. Even more risky is to borrow someone else’s towel!  

In addition to borrowing a towel from a stranger—or even a friend or loved one!—at the next locker over, another action that can make athlete’s foot more likely is to wear damp socks or shoes.  

Your feet are already ideal breeding grounds for microorganisms—they are dark from being hidden inside socks and shoes; sweat throughout the day; and your body is naturally warm—but damp footwear makes it even better for fungi, which is bad for you. If you suffer from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), be sure to keep an extra pair of socks or two with you and change into them when you notice that your other pair is damp.  

Keep in mind that even the best preventative measures will not always eliminate all of the risk for contracting athlete’s foot. If you have tried your best home care and cannot improve the condition, simply give us a call and we will be glad to take a look and provide stronger treatment options. Call (812) 333-4422 to connect with our Bloomington, IN office today!