Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin that causes an itchy and painful rash. It is fairly common in older children and teens who are active in youth sports. In fact, it is estimated that 70% of people will get an athlete’s foot infection at some point in their life. This infection can spread easily among groups and in environments like locker rooms and swimming pools.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this common childhood nuisance.
Causes of Athlete’s Foot in Children
Athlete’s foot is an infection caused by fungi that naturally live on the skin, hair, and nails.
An athlete’s foot infection typically begins between the toes, especially in those who have been performing athletic activities in tight-fitting shoes. Athlete’s foot can spread through contact with objects like towels, socks, and shoes — so never share these items with others.
Kids may also come into contact with the fungi in warm, moist environments such as a gym, pool, or locker room. It is important for kids to always wear shoes in these environments.
Children with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing athlete’s foot.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot in Children
Symptoms of athlete’s foot in children include:
- Scaly rash
- Skin redness
- Skin cracking
- Skin peeling
- Moist and raw skin
- Bad smell
Diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot in Children
With its telltale symptoms, it is fairly easy to diagnose a case of athlete’s foot, although your child’s doctor can certainly perform an evaluation to make an official diagnosis. This diagnosis is typically made through a simple physical exam and by taking a symptom history. A suspected athlete’s foot infection can also be confirmed by acquiring a skin scraping sample to be tested.
Treatment of Athlete’s Foot in Children
For a mild case of the infection, treatment of athlete’s foot is usually relatively simple. In addition to keeping the feet clean and dry, there are many over-the-counter treatments.
The use of medicated sprays, creams, and foot powders can treat an active infection as well as help prevent the spread of the fungi that causes athlete’s foot. In some cases, prescription medications such as antibiotics, steroids, or antifungals may be required to clear the infection.
With the right treatment, patients should begin experiencing relief of the symptoms of athlete’s foot within a few weeks. However, because the fungi that cause athlete’s foot naturally live on the skin, the infection can easily come back, and repeat treatments may be needed. It is extremely important for your child to finish any medications they are prescribed.
Prevention of Athlete’s Foot in Children
If you have a child with an active infection of athlete’s foot, you will need to take care to make sure it doesn’t spread to other members of the family or team. The infection can also spread to different areas of the body if untreated, so be sure to encourage proper hygiene and watch kids closely to ensure they are not scratching.
In order to prevent the infection, kids should never share towels and should always wear shoes in damp areas like locker rooms, gyms, and swimming pools. Athletic socks should be changed frequently, and athletic shoes must be aired out or even treated between games. Avoid shoes and socks that are too tight and not made from breathable materials. Lastly, be sure that your kids change out of their sweaty shoes and socks as soon as possible after physical activity.
If you have any questions about the diagnosis or treatment of athlete’s foot in kids, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable pediatricians in Arvada.