I thought it was just dry skin
One of the most common problems I see in my private office is athlete's foot. Let me stress the term 'see' because typically, the athlete's foot infection isn't the primary reason for the office call. The primary reason for the visit may be a sprain or fracture, but rarely is it for chronic dry skin of the bottom of the foot. With out fail, when you introduce a patient to the fact that they have a fungal infection of the foot, without fail they say, "I thought that was just dry skin."
Athlete's foot can be considered both an acute and a chronic problem. Acute athlete's foot, known as tinea mentagrophytes, is the classic appearance of athlete's foot. It presents with bubble and blisters that are localized. The base is bright red and the foot itches. T. mentagrophytes is common between the toes and on the sole of the foot. Chronic athlete's foot presents a wee bit differently, without the dramatic bubbles and blisers. Chronic athlete's foot (tinea rubrum) looks just like dry skin. T. rubrum is found on the sole of the foot, classically described as a moccasin distribution. T. rubrum is also the most common contributing cause to fungal infections of toe nails (onychomycosis). Infections of the toe nail occur when the nail is injured. It is easier for the fungus to reside in the skin but once the nail is injured, the t. rubrum infection of the skin can easily seed an infection in the nail.
After stating, "I thought that was dry skin" there is always the a-ha moment; "I've tried a number of different skin softeners. So that's why that never clears up." Common sense would say that dry skin is treated with the application of a skin softener. But again, chronic athlete's foot won't respond to just a skin softener. It needs to be treated with an antifungal.
When treating fungal infections of the foot it's important to realize that treating the problem for two weeks will not resolve the problem. It can't be treated like a bacterial infection that'll clear with the use of antibiotics for 10 days. In the case of chronic fungal infection you need to have an ongoing treatment plan. Do you need a prescription? No, not at all. In fact prescriptions can contribute to the failur of treatment. You go to the doctor, get your prescription and when the prescription runs out the athlete's foot comes right back. Chronic fungal infections of the skin can easily be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) lotions and creams. But let me stress again, it can be resolved with a skin softener, it needs to be treated regularly (daily) with an antifungal cream.
Our top seller for chronic fungal infections of the foot is Antifungal Healing Cream. Antifungal Healing Cream hydrates while controlling new growth of fungus. Used twice a day for two weeks and you'll see how well the dry skin clears. And I thought it was just dry skin...
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM