Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection of skin of the foot, usually affecting the soles of the feet and the areas between the toes. Sometimes, it may also spread to the toenails. This skin disorder is caused by the fungus tinea pedis, which is contracted from public environments. The fungus thrives in damp and warm areas such as locker rooms and common showers, which provide an ideal breeding ground for them. Walking barefoot in such facilities, the fungus can easily be transferred from the barren floor into the foot. As the infection was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently, the term “athlete’s foot” became popular. Susceptibility to this infection is increased by poor hygiene, tight and closed footwear, prolonged moist skin, and minor skin or nail injuries. This infection is contagious, and can spread through direct contact, or contact with items such as shoes, stockings, and shower or swimming pool surfaces. They also can be transmitted from contact with pets that carry the fungus. Athlete’s foot infection may be brief or long-term and may recur after treatment.
The most common symptom of athlete’s foot is cracked, flaking, peeling skin between the toes. With the infection slowly developing, the skin surrounding the foot becomes dry and scaly. Inflammation and blisters may also develop gradually during the course of the infection. The blisters especially those found in between the toes are more likely to break out, exposing raw skin that can cause a great deal of pain and burning sensation. Itchiness on the surrounding skin is also one of the disturbing and troublesome symptoms of athlete’s foot. The affected area is usually red and itchy. In addition to the toes, the symptoms can also occur on the heels, palms, and between the fingers. If the fungus spreads to nails, they can become discolored, thick, and even crumble. It can also spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere. The organisms causing athlete’s foot may persist for long periods. Consequently, the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing to other parts of the body.
The best treatment of athlete’s foot is prevention. Its infection can be prevented by practicing good foot hygiene. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water; drying carefully, especially between the toes; and changing shoes and hose regularly to decrease moisture, help prevent the fungus from infecting the feet. Also helpful is daily use of a quality foot powder. One should take extra care in public places. It is best to avoid walking barefoot in places like locker rooms and use shower shoes instead. It is also advisable to wear a sock, like cotton sock, which keeps the feet dry. Also, it should be changed frequently if one perspires heavily. Wet or sweaty socks should never be worn. One can also find socks made of special “moisture wicking” fabrics in many sports stores – these are designed to keep feet dry. If possible, one should choose sneakers that are well ventilated – some sneakers contain small ventilation holes that help to keep the feet dry. Light and airy shoes should be given preference to other variety of shoes. A clean towel should always be used and it is better to avoid sharing towels because doing so can spread the infection.
Although, over the counter medications are available for treatment of athlete’s foot, the fungicidal and fungistatic chemicals, its main constituents, frequently fail to contact the fungi in the horny layers of the skin. If the topical antifungal treatments are not sufficient to control the problem, then an oral prescription treatment is often the next step.
However, these medicines have their own set of problems like side effects, longer duration of cure etc. Most recently, it is being replaced by colloidal silver, which has been found extremely effective in the treatment and prevention of athlete’s foot. Colloidal silver, which is nothing but ultra fine particles of silver suspended in water, is well known for its effectiveness in fighting against infectious organisms. Colloidal silver has proven itself useful against all species of fungi, parasites, bacteria, protozoa, and certain viruses. In the early 1900’s, colloidal silver was considered to be one of the mainstays of antibiotic treatment. It is still considered to be the most universal antibiotic substance that is non-toxic in its micro concentrates of 10-25 ppm. It is absorbed into the skin tissues at a slow enough rate that is non irritating to the tissues.
As stated earlier, cleanliness is one of the main factors in the prevention of athlete’s foot which is one the main virtue of the soap containing colloidal silver. The germ fighting capabilities of colloidal silver has been incorporated into soap and it is being extensively used for daily usage. These soaps help to maintain a healthy and clean skin because it has got the extra strength to fight the disease causing fungus. Colloidal silver is also found to stimulate healing process in the skin. This leads to a rejuvenating skin appearance because of regular usage of soap containing colloidal silver. Also, these soaps are considered to be purely natural because of its silver content. As a result, it is free from all toxic materials a normal soap contains. The soaps with colloidal silver are totally safe for human usage and they do not have any side effects. Also, the fungus causing athlete’s foot do not seem to build up a resistance to colloidal silver the way they do to pharmaceutical antibiotics. Antibiotics are becoming less effective as resistance to them grows. This also has led to such soaps being extremely popular in the treatment and prevention of athlete’s foot.