Fungi have long held a very important role in the ecosystem and even in our recipes. Although they grow in the ground and appear to be plants they are actually eukaryotic organisms and either eat dead material or live as parasites on others. You may be shocked to hear that a relatively common malady is essentially just a fungus making your skin its home!

                Tinea Pedis, or more commonly known as Athlete’s Foot, is an itchy, red, flaky rash that grows in areas of our bodies that are mostly kept warm and moist. Our feet, armpits and groins are essentially the perfect breeding ground for these fungal infections.

**** Many of the fungi that cause these rashes are of the same family and often cause skin diseases in animals! ****

(Picture of Epidermophyton floccosum from Wikipedia. This fungus specifically prefers humans!)

                  The way in which most people acquire this infection is through contact of their skin with a surface that other infected people have come into contact with. Showers, saunas and even the areas around swimming pools have been found to harbor the spores of these pesky creatures. After these spores establish themselves on your skin they lay in wait for your socks, shoes and clothes to cover them and create the environment that they love.

                 Prevention is the best solution to this problem, but if you find yourself with Athlete’s Foot you have a few options to get rid of it.

-       Do nothing. In some cases, if you bathe and change your socks often enough, the natural antifungal properties of your skin will snub out the invading fungus.

-       Topical antifungals, in creams or sprays, will take care of the problem. They are found at most drug stores and supermarkets.

-       Using foot powders will help keep your feet dry inside of yours shoes and socks, therefore leading to less fungus!

-       Don’t forget to wash and/or disinfect your shoes. If it’s on your feet and your feet have been in your shoes…It’s in your shoes too.

-       In some of the worst cases of tinea pedis, bacterial infections can also appear in the areas irritated by the fungi. If you are noticing that your condition is worsening or has persisted for too long you should see a doctor! 

(Picture from kesq.com)

**** Wearing sandals or just plain going barefoot once in a while is healthy for your feet and will help prevent the dreaded foot fungus!****

            In addition to an unsightly rash or stinky scent these foot fungi can make their way under your nails and establish themselves there for the long haul. Discoloration, thickening, becoming gnarly and misshapen are all consequences of prolonged nail fungus infection on your toenails!

            So be sure to keep your feet clean and dry, wash those old shoes that you have probably never washed, and remember to wear some flip-flops the next time you brave the showers at the gym!