Tinea Pedis is one of those conditions, like hemorrhoids or cold sores, that elicits embarrassment in its victims. It's also a condition that most of us don't take very seriously, which is evidenced by its very nickname of "Athlete's Foot". However, if left untreated, Tinea Pedis can be far from a laughing matter!

Tinea pedis is a fungus infection of the skin of the feet. The fungus, called tinea, grows in the skin between and under the toes, especially the outer two little toes. Sometimes it spreads to the soles of the feet. It may also grow on the toenails, which become thickened and whitish-yellow. The same type of fungus may infect the skin of the groin, especially the scrotum in men. This condition is called 'jock itch'.

We all have one or more of the fungi that can cause athlete's foot on our bodies. They feed on dead skin cells and are usually harmless. The fungi love warm, moist places with the result they are primarily a problem for people who wear tight-fitting trainers or don't dry their feet properly. The condition is contagious. It can be spread by direct skin-to-skin contact and indirectly through towels, shoes, floors, etc.

The classic symptoms of tinea pedis are an red itchy rash in the spaces between the toes (often between the 4th and 5th toes initially) and possibly small pustules. There is often a small degree of scaling as well. The infection can spread to the rest of the foot and other parts of the body.

In rarer cases, the infection can become extremely severe, with a rash developing that resembles eczema as the skin reddens and its furrows become marked, resembling chalk lines. The skin cracks and blisters and, as you can see, the results are quite appalling.

Tinea pedis is usually well controlled by application of antifungal liquids, creams, or ointments. Severe cases may require griseofulvin, an antifungal medication taken by mouth. Sometimes infection with bacteria complicates tinea pedis and antibiotics are needed to kill the germs. However, as with most maladies, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In order to minimize your chances of contracting this nasty condition, wear clean socks that are at least 60% cotton, keep your feet dry, and wear different shoes every day to give each pair time to dry out.

If not for yourself, then please do it for the children!

The information and images above were mercilessly swiped from the following fine websites:
Atlas Of Dermatology
Superficial Fungal Infections of the Skin
Custom Medical Stock Photo, Inc.
The American Academy Of Dermatology
The Skin Site

Special thanks to Desireema for the suggestion!

Death Threats...