Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Athlete's Foot: First With Kids - Vermont Children's Hospital, Fletcher Allen
Best Foot Forward When It Comes to Dealing with Athlete’s Foot
As more and more children participate in
sports, parents are itching to ask me questions about athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is a red, itchy, sometimes
burning, scaly rash caused by a fungus infection that grows best on warm, damp
skin. This results in flaking, peeling and cracking of the skin on the feet. It
is most commonly seen in older kids and teens.
The condition is worse in hot weather but
also in children who rarely take off their shoes or sneakers. It usually
appears between the toes, on the soles of the foot, and can spread to toe
nails. It is also contagious and can spread in damp areas such as public
showers or pool areas.
It is not a problem exclusive to
athletes—in fact anyone whose feet tend to get damp or sweaty can get it.
If you think your child might have this problem, here are a few things to remember. Getting athlete’s foot is not something to worry a lot about. It is easily treated but can take at least 2-3 weeks to go away. Over-the-counter antifungal cream or powder will work if applied after the feet have been rinsed and dried. Apply the cream or lotion between the toes as well as over them and continue using this cream for at least a week after the rash disappears.
Walking around barefoot at home will allow the rash to dry up as well. Wearing sandals or open shoes or well-ventilated sneakers or athletic shoes will help stop the growth of this fungus.
It is important to also remember that having athlete’s foot does not mean having to take your child out of gym, boil the socks, or discard the shoes. It is thought that athlete’s foot spreads by direct contact with moist contaminated surfaces like those found in locker room or bathroom floors and not via the footwear they are using.
The best way to deal with athlete’s foot is to prevent this condition from happening. How can you do this? Your child or teen can get the fungus from sharing towels with someone who has athlete’s foot. They should dry their feet well after showering and use a clean towel to do so. Cotton socks absorb sweat and can keep feet dry to prevent the fungus from taking hold on your child’s feet.
Hopefully these tips will allow you and your child to take a step in the right direction and toe the line when it comes to dealing with the treatment and better yet, the prevention of athlete’s foot.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids