Fungal infections are common, especially in winter when feet are bundled up in tight-fitting socks and shoes. Luckily, fungal infections in the lower limbs can be easily cleared up, but more severe cases may cause complicated problems if left untreated. In this blog, we will highlight two types of common lower limb fungal infections, their symptoms, and how to treat them.

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Athlete's Foot

Tinea pedis, or athlete's foot, is caused by the same type of fungus that causes ringworm and jock itch. This fungal infection typically starts between the toes and can spread to cover the entire foot. The fungus thrives in a warm, damp environment, so the infection can quickly develop and worsen if your feet spend the whole day in sweaty warm socks. 

Symptoms of Athlete's foot can include:

  • Scaly, peeling, or cracked skin between the toes
  • Itchiness
  • Inflamed skin on the feet and toes
  • Dry, scaly rash
  • Stinging sensation along the rash. 

Over-the-counter anti-fungal medications can treat tinea pedis, but certain precautions should be taken while the medication is in use. Always wear protective shoes in pools or spas to prevent spreading the fungus to others, and wash and air out feet daily to avoid worsening the fungal infection. Consider alternating the shoes you wear daily to give your footwear the opportunity to dry out between uses. If the infection has not cleared up following two weeks of medication, schedule an appointment with a doctor. Additionally, if you have diabetes, or notice your foot has cracked skin or consistent inflammation, a visit to a doctor can help determine if you need further treatment. 

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Nail Fungus

While the symptoms of a nail fungus are not as painful at the onset, an untreated nail fungus can become bothersome and unsightly. Often starting as a spot of discoloration beneath the nail on one of the toes, the discoloration can worsen as the fungus goes deeper into the nail bed and affects the nail itself. 

Symptoms of a nail fungus can include:

  • Misshapened nails
  • Thick nails with crumbling edges
  • Nails separating from the nail bed
  • Discolored nails (yellow or brown) 

Over-the-counter treatments are available but only effective on mild infections that are caught early, so we recommend scheduling an appointment with a medical professional. For individuals who also have diabetes, a doctor's visit is especially important because of possible complications caused by nerve damage in the lower limbs. If left untreated, nail fungus progresses, spreads, and is harder to treat and eradicate. It can eventually cause bleeding around the nails and swelling that can make walking painful and difficult.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the best way to ensure the health of your feet is to schedule an appointment with one of our expert podiatrists. We can examine your feet, create a personalized treatment plan, and ensure that your condition is not complicated by other factors. Call 717-757-3537 to schedule an appointment at any of our five locations in Central Pennsylvania.

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