As many as 1 in 10 people will suffer from foot fungus over the course of a lifetime. It can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition, with symptoms ranging from yellow, thickened toenails to patches of itchy, burning athlete’s foot and callus-like plantar warts. One of the reasons such infections are so widespread is that people tend to think about the methods of transmission all wrong, according to NYC podiatrists. Understanding the underlying causes of foot infections is imperative to preventing them, so here are several key ways you can avoid a foot fungus infection this summer.
“Foot fungus” is a blanket term that includes plantar warts, athlete’s foot, and onychomycosis (toenail fungus). These infections are easily contracted around pools, locker rooms, and showers—and they’re notoriously difficult to clear up. Recurrence rates as high as 53% have been reported for toenail fungus. Antifungal soap on its own is not enough to “cure” a fungal outbreak, but it is a helpful agent in preventing future recurrences and in treating the symptoms.
What sucks the joy from a backpacking trip or day hike? A fungal foot infection. In fact, fungal infections suck the joy from just about anything. The cases we treat at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine cause maddening levels of itching and burning. In severe cases, patients can hardly walk. The nickname “trench foot” comes from the prevalence of this fungal infection among soldiers, but the condition can affect any athlete or avid summer hiker who doesn’t take careful preventative measures.
Toenail fungus is one of the most insidious conditions among patients seeking podiatric care. Though the exact incidence of recurrence is not known, rates as high as 53% have been reported, indicating that more than half of all toenail fungus patients suffer from chronic infections that don’t seem to go away, even after seeking treatment. Part of the problem, say New York podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, is the ease of re-infection by coming into contact with more of the fungus adulterating the patient’s daily environments.
“It’s easy to see how toenail fungus becomes a chronic problem when you consider the reproduction of fungal colonies,” explains Dr. Katherine Lai, DPM. “Tiny microscopic fungal spores contaminate everything from towels and bed sheets, to socks and shoes. Therefore, effective treatment relies on attacking the root cause, but also addressing issues of cross-contamination.”
Plantar warts can be an embarrassing problem, but they needn’t be. Warts on the feet do not protrude in the same way as warts on the face or hands. They tend to become compacted into the foot and are often confused as calluses or dry skin. When one examines them very carefully, small black spores are visible in the center of the colony. While not embarrassing, a foot wart is never a good thing to see because they are very difficult to treat and may return even after a “successful” clinical outcome. There is no industry standard for how podiatrists may treat warts on the feet, so it’s up to the patient’s discretion which route is taken.
“I am so grateful for having had Dr. Geldwert perform bunion surgery on both of my feet. I have complete confidence in him and continue to see him for other sports related injuries. I was cautious about having surgery for the first time, but his knowledge, patience, and skill made me completely comfortable in trusting him. And I couldn’t be any happier with the results!! When anything else feels wrong with my feet, I love that I now know to go immediately to him. He is my top choice for anyone searching for the best foot fixer/surgeon/sports doctor in NYC! Thank you, Dr. Geldwert!!!”
– J. M., Manhattan, NY
Manhattan Office 111 East 88th Street New York, NY 10128 (212) 996-1900 See map here
Westchester Office 10 Mitchell Place Suite 105 White Plains, NY 10601 (914) 328-3400 See map here
Manhattan Orthopedic and Sports Medicine 57 West 57th Street New York, NY 10019 (212) 996-1900 See map here
Dr. Josef J. Geldwert DPM, Dr. Katherine Lai DPM, Dr. Ryan Minara, DPM, and Dr. Mariola Rivera DPM serving Westchester County, White Plains, Ardsley, Bronxville, Harrison NY, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye, Scarsdale, Rye Brook, Chappaqua, and the surrounding area.
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