Diabetes and Feet – Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot

Foot Care for Athlete’s Foot in Diabetes

People with diabetes have reduced immunity levels. This is a major reason for many foot infections. Diabetic foot infection needs proper care as the healing process slows down. If left untreated, it can lead to diabetic foot ulcer. Athlete’s foot is one contagious infection that is known to affect people with diabetes.

What is Athlete’s Foot?

It is a fungal infection of the feet that causes inflammation and blisters. It is a skin disease that generally affects skin between toes and the sole of the feet. Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is common among athletes and non-athletes. Though it is not a serious condition, treatment is prolonged and needs prompt care.

Caused by the tinea fungus, this disease is spread either by direct contact of the infected person or by walking barefoot on contaminated areas. Since tinea fungus develops in humid and heat conditions, it is known to contaminate community showers, swimming pools, and toilets.

Athlete’s foot appears with itching, burning sensation,and pain. If left untreated, it leads to cracking in the infected area along with painful blisters.

Athlete’s Foot – Risk Factors

  • Having excess sweat on the feet
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Sharing shoes and socks of infected people
  • Hot and humid conditions
  • Keeping feet wet for long times
  • Visiting public showers, and community swimming pools

Athlete’s foot is diagnosed using a physical examination or by conducting a skin test. It is treated using antifungal medications and topical ointments. While mild Athlete’s foot is easily resolved by antifungal treatments, severe cases need prolonged treatment.

Diabetes and Athlete’s Foot

Infections of the feet including Athlete’s foot can be serious in diabetes. It can lead to serious diabetic foot infections, and diabetic foot ulcers. People with diabetes are prone to infections as there is reduced adaptive immunity. Added to that, there is poor blood flow and nerve damage in the feet of people with diabetes. This leads to poor healing and worsening of the infection in general.

There is a chance that people with diabetes might confuse Athlete’s foot with dry skin in its initial stages.In the beginning, there is flaky skin with scales. This occurs mostly in the fourth and fifth toes. Gradually, symptoms increase causing inflammation and blisters.

It is a cause for concern among people with diabetes as Athlete’s foot can cause cuts in the skin. Small cuts in the feet for people with diabetes is a major risk of secondary bacterial infections like cellulitis. This is one of the diabetic foot infections.

Though Athlete’s foot is contagious, the secondary bacterial infection (cellulitis) is non-contagious. However, if cellulitis is not treated properly, it can lead to tissue death and amputation in people with diabetes.

Prevention of Athlete’s Foot

  • Maintain foot hygiene. Wash feet properly with soap and dry
  • Keep the area in between toes dry
  • Apply antifungal powder to feet daily
  • Use proper diabetes shoes and absorbent socks
  • Change socks when they get wet
  • Always wear sandals or other footwear while using communal bath areas and swimming pools
  • Do not share your nail cutters, socks, and shoes
  • Keep your diabetes under control
  • Get regular feet examination with a podiatrist