The eyes of the world will soon be on London and the Summer Olympics. With that in mind, this is a special report on a few common problems that athletes have with their feet. So join us in cheering on Team USA and if you have any of these problems let us help to keep you working at peak performance. Athlete's Foot: Athlete's foot is a skin infection caused by fungus. A fungal infection may occur on any part of the body; on the foot it is called athlete's foot, or tinea pedis. Fungus commonly attacks the feet because it thrives in a dark, moist, warm environment such as a shoe. Fungal infections are more common in warm weather when feet tend to sweat more (see below). Fungus thrives in damp areas such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. Athletes commonly have sweaty feet and use the facilities where fungus is commonly found, thus the term "athlete's foot." Athlete's foot usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin. It is commonly seen on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. In advanced cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form; an infection caused by bacteria can also result. The fungus can spread to other areas of the body, including toenails. Toenail fungus is the same exact fungus as athlete’s foot, so the infection can go both ways. The skin infection can spread to the nails and the nail infection can spread to the skin. This is one reason for treatment failure. Avoiding walking barefoot combined with good foot hygiene can help reduce the spread of the fungus. Feet should be washed every day with soap and water and thoroughly dried, including between the toes. Feet should be kept as dry as possible. Anti-fungal powders, sprays, and/or creams are often utilized to treat athlete's foot. Shoes should also be treated to kill the fungus that lives there. Your foot and ankle surgeon will recommend the best treatment for you. Sweaty Feet: The number of sweat glands is most dense at the feet and hands. Sweaty feet, or hyperhidrosis, is a common disorder in which the sweat glands of the feet produce excessive sweat. Persons with this condition usually have a genetic predisposition or are under stress, which activates the brain to produce more sweat to keep the body cool. Athlete's foot or smelly feet may accompany sweaty feet. Frequent changing of socks, use of acrylic socks or use of antiperspirants often cures this sometimes embarrassing condition. Your foot and ankle surgeon can recommend one of a variety of treatments for this condition. Black Toenails or Runner's Toe: A black, purple, or brownish discoloration under or involving a toenail is frequently due to trauma to the toe nail, such as when something is dropped on the toe. The color results from a blood clot or bleeding under the nail, and may involve the entire nail or just a small portion of it. This can be very painful when the entire nail is involved, and may need medical attention to relieve the pressure caused by bleeding under the toenail. Although it is very rare, a more serious cause of black toenails is malignant melanoma. Since early diagnosis and treatment of melanoma improves the chances for a good outcome, it is important that all black toenails be evaluated by a qualified foot and ankle surgeon to rule out this cause. Other rare causes of black toenails include fungal infections, chronic ingrown nails, or health problems affecting the rest of the body. This condition is sometimes called Runner’s toe because it is so common in runners or long distance walkers. Longer shoes with soft mesh uppers are often all it takes to prevent this painful issue and keep you on the road. Committed to your health, Dr. Craig Conti Sarasota Foot Care Center www.sarasotafootcarecenter.com
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