Athlete's foot — also known as tinea pedis — is a common fungal infection that affects the skin on your feet, particularly the spaces between your toes. While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, athlete’s foot can lead to various complications if left untreated.
Understanding the potential risks associated with untreated athlete’s foot is crucial to emphasize the importance of early intervention and proper treatment.
In this article, Aamir Mahmood, DPM, and our team here at Momentum Foot & Ankle Clinic explore some potential complications that can arise from neglecting this fungal infection.
Secondary bacterial infections
One of the primary concerns with untreated athlete's foot is the increased risk of developing a secondary bacterial infection. The fungal infection weakens your skin’s natural protective barrier, making it more susceptible to invasion by bacteria. Symptoms such as redness, swelling, pain, and pus-filled blisters may indicate a bacterial infection. If left untreated, this can lead to cellulitis, a potentially serious skin infection that requires immediate medical attention.
Spread of fungus
Athlete’s foot is highly contagious; if left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body or individuals in your home. It can easily spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as floors, towels, or shoes. The fungus can cause infections on your nails, hands, groin, or other areas of the body, leading to more extensive and difficult-to-treat conditions.
Chronic or recurrent infections
Without proper treatment, athlete’s foot can become a chronic condition, causing persistent symptoms that are challenging to eliminate. The fungal infection may continuously thrive and reoccur, making it harder to eradicate completely. Chronic athlete’s foot can lead to ongoing discomfort, itchiness, and pain, affecting daily activities and quality of life.
In some cases, untreated athlete’s foot can trigger allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive to the fungal infection or the fungi themselves. These reactions can manifest as redness, inflammation, blisters, or hives, and they may cause intense itching and discomfort. Allergic reactions can further complicate the condition and require additional treatment to manage the symptoms effectively.
Interference with daily activities
Athlete’s foot can cause significant discomfort, including itching, burning, and pain. These symptoms can disrupt daily activities such as walking, exercising, and even sleeping, affecting overall well-being and productivity. If left untreated, the persistent discomfort can impact physical and emotional health, leading to decreased mobility and a diminished quality of life. Simply put, chronic fungal infections are nothing short of a nuisance.
Get help for stubborn athlete’s foot
While athlete’s foot may seem like a minor annoyance, neglecting proper treatment can result in various complications. From secondary bacterial infections to the spread of the fungus, chronic infections, allergic reactions, and interference with daily activities, untreated athlete's foot can significantly impact your health and well-being.
To prevent these potential complications, it is important to seek medical attention and follow appropriate treatment strategies as soon as symptoms of athlete’s foot appear. Early intervention will alleviate discomfort and help avoid more severe complications in the long run.
Here at Momentum Foot & Ankle, Dr. Mahmood treats fungal infections through:
- Topical antifungal ointments
- Oral antifungal medications
- Antifungal powder
- Lifestyle guidance to prevent future recurrence
Need help eliminating a stubborn infection? Call the location of your choice — Chesterton and Michigan City, Indiana, and Lombard, Illinois — or request an appointment online.