Curing the scourge of summer: Dealing with athlete’s footSpring is the time when all things hibernating wake up from their sleep, be they animals, insects or even microbes. Unfortunately, the fungi that cause athlete’s foot are no exception. Inactive during the the cold and dry winter, they stir in spring and can be rampant by the hot and humid summer.
It’s best to treat the condition early, then, before summer arrives. The fungi that cause athlete’s foot originate from either dermatophytes or yeast. Their spores can hibernate anywhere on the body but they tend to congregate around toenails and between the toes due to the warmth provided by their hosts’ wearing of socks and shoes. Once activated, they cause the irritation known as athlete’s foot, or by its medical term, onychomycosis.
Even though it is not a critical condition, it should be treated immediately, as it sometimes takes a while to completely eradicate. The odor generated by the fungi causes about 90 percent of patients to suffer from self-disparagement and stress, and some even avoid building interpersonal relationships, according to some reports.
Cures for the condition have developed from simple ointments to oral medicines and injections. There are also combined therapies, using ointments and pills in order to raise the efficacy of the treatment.
“In the past, treatment was very primitive, such as removing toe nails and applying liniment after making the areas sensitive with chemicals,” said Ahn Sung-ku, a dermatologist at Wonju Christian Hospital. But now there are many different methods so people can choose the appropriate one depending on the condition of their feet and their physical constitution.
Oral medicines are usually taken once a day, though some medications are given in weekly doses. However, the pills can have side effects that damage the liver or heart in certain people. “Athlete’s foot often hits the elderly, and those with chronic diseases or with low immunity should be careful when taking medicine considering the possible interaction with other treatments,” Dr. Ahn emphasized. Sufferers of athlete’s foot should fully inform their doctor of their medical history.
Experts advise that people continue taking the medicine for at least three to six months, even though the symptoms appear to have gone away, because the fungus could come back. People who have to wear shoes for a long time or who work in hot places should take extra care ― for them the length of time they must take medicine could be longer than average, and a recurrence of the condition is more likely.
Taking good care of your feet is also a must, following medical treatment.
by Ko Jong-kwan