Foot mycosis (fungi): prevention and care

micosi piedi

You’ve probably already heard of skin fungus, but maybe you still don’t know what it is. It is easy enough to learn about the infection, but unfortunately equally easy to catch. It can, however, be cured. Superficial skin mycoses, or skin fungi, are infections caused by parasitic organisms that live by feeding on substances from other living beings, such as animals or humans.

In dermatomycoses, or skin mycosis, the microscopic fungus remains localised in the skin and gives rise to an inflammation that manifests itself on the skin in various ways, with different signs and symptoms of infection. The most widespread mycoses are RINGWORMS, CANDIDIASIS (thrush) and PITYRIASIS. Ringworms are characterised by round spots and vesicles; Candidiasis manifests with redness of the skin which is very itchy, while pityriasis creates coffee-coloured spots of skin that become pale after tanning.  

They hit you here

Every single point of our skin could become the ideal place for a fungus. In practice, however, fungi favour different parts of the skin based on their nature. There are types of fungi that choose to settle in the scalp, others in the feet, others on the back, on the limbs, face, trunk, neck, groin or nails.

But the ideal place for the development of fungi is the body’s natural skin folds: right there, where sweat and general humidity stagnates, making these areas most prone to fungal infections; these areas must be given extra attention. This is why the skin of a baby wearing a diaper is more exposed to dermatitis and fungal infections.

How they come into contact with the skin.  Tips for the treatment of mycoses.

As with all types of fungi including edible ones, mycoses reproduce by means of spores.

Infection occurs directly between person and person, or through contact with infected objects or animals. They then settle on the surface of the skin and multiply there, giving rise to chains of parasites, thereby producing new spores.

But in order for fungi to reach the body, the natural skin barrier must have lost some of its integrity. And this takes place thanks to various factors: insufficient or excessive hygiene, use of aggressive soaps or cosmetics that can destroy the lipid layer protecting the skin, certain diseases or weaker states.  

Seasonal factors are also very determining. In fact, the opportunities for transmission particularly increase in summer. In addition, it is easier to come into contact with dogs and cats while outdoors, which are responsible for most infections in children.

Mycosis risk factors

Environmental factors:
the climate or hot-humid environment is crucial. The summer temperature causes people to wear less clothing and promotes the increase of skin-to-skin contact and changes the skin’s microclimate.

Incorrect hygiene:
the protracted and intense use of very aggressive soaps can modify the protective barrier of our skin, reducing its effectiveness (facilitating the onset of fungi). Poor personal hygiene can also open new paths in the epidermis where fungi then channel.

Antibiotic or cortisone treatments:
protracted antibiotic therapies can modify bacterial flora, favouring the settling of fungi, while cortisone treatments or similar drugs weaken the immune system, making it less ready to defend.

the immune system of the obese may be less effective than the norm, with a consequent increase in the risk of mycosis. The folds of the skin are more numerous and deep as well.

those suffering from this disease, as well as having lower defensive capabilities, have a greater risk of skin chapping, especially on the feet, and therefore tend to be more easily attacked by fungi.

General state of physical debility:
this can cause a lowering of the immune defences, which affects the skin barrier’s capacity.

Skin fungi: These are often found in the gym and swimming pool

Skin fungi can be contracted everywhere, but there are environments where the fungi develop more easily.
In fact, the fungi lurk and thrive on wooden floors, carpets, rugs and mats in toilets and in locker rooms. They survive for a long time in pools and in places of common life, in saunas, showers and gymnasiums.
It is easy to contract a diffuse form of mycosis in these places: athlete’s foot, which manifests in the spaces in-between toes with whitish scaling and bad perspiration of the foot that can aggravate and extend to the dorsal area.

If you do not want to suffer, you must make them suffer
Never think that a skin fungus will disappear as it came, without any help or care. The only way to eliminate mycoses is by using drugs. Even if a neglected fungus has not appeared for some time, it will most likely reoccur, and with worse effects. The drugs used to treat infections caused by fungi are called antifungal drugs. In general, the therapy consists of topical formulations (creams and lotions) to apply directly to the infected areas. Only in the most severe cases do doctors prescribes tablets for oral use. In order for the local treatment to be effective and definitive, it must however be protracted for at least 3-4 weeks, even if the cutaneous manifestations disappear in less time.

If you meet them don’t introduce them to your friends
If you don’t want to pass your skin fungus on to friends and family, in addition to antifungal treatment, it is essential that you follow some important hygienic rules. “Infected” clothing must be isolated. Underwear and socks should be washed with active detergents and at temperatures above 60° C. Respect your friends and family members by avoiding sharing towels, bathrobes and everyday washroom accessories. Remember to never walk barefoot in any public or sports venue.

In addition to treatment, it takes a little bit of care

At this point using some simple precautions is good practice:

Short baths:
prolonged contact with hot water softens the stratum corneum and lets the fungi spread more easily.

Recognise the aggravating conditions and prevent the fungi’s growth:
reduce sweating as much as possible, dry yourself very carefully, use slightly Ph acidic soaps and eliminate the use of oily products if you have pityriasis versicolore.

Avoid scratching:
you risk extending the fungus to your hands and nails.

Limit the infection:
during the first few days of treatment, protect the inflamed part with a gauze to avoid passing the infection on to others and to yourself.

Identify the sources of contagion:
understand how and where the fungus was contracted, as it helps in finding effective solutions.

Avoid synthetic clothing:
cotton or silk garments are preferred in contact with the skin.

No plastic shoes:
use footwear in natural materials such as leather or linen, which allow the feet to breathe.

Clean and disinfect:
scrupulously wash sheets, sinks and toilets.

Everything you need to do to prevent fungi

Although fungi are always lurking, the risk of contagion can be reduced to a minimum by following some practical advice.

Personal hygiene:
the basic rule is to wash regularly, neither too much nor too little.

it must be changed daily, and it is better to avoid the use of towels, clothing, shoes and other combs.

Avoid excessive perspiration:
saunas are not recommended for those who are predisposed to pityriasis versicolore.

For athletes:
frequently check your wardrobe and eliminate, or at least limit, the use of clothing or shoes that prevent normal perspiration and cause sweat to stagnate. In addition, athletes should always choose cotton or linen garments, limit the use of sneakers (to always wear with socks, which must be washed after each wearing) and wash insoles often.

limit tight clothing or synthetic fibres. They do not allow good transpiration and increase the skin’s temperature and humidity.

Do not walk barefoot:
avoid walking barefoot in any public or sports venue, on rugs, carpets and in campsites. All you need to do is wear thin slippers.

Dry properly:
use the towel carefully on all parts of your body and especially in the spaces between the toes, the underarms and between skin and inguinal folds.

use products with a physiological pH and soothing, moisturising lotions which guarantee the integrity of the skin and its role as a barrier against external agents.

Change shoes often:
It’s best to wear different footwear and insoles every day to allow the moisture in the shoes to completely dry.

Use powders with an absorbing action such as talc in all natural skin folds.

Avoid infection by pets:
bring dogs and cats to a veterinary specialist before bringing them home, avoid touching animals whose health conditions are unknown and regularly check
if animals that live in the home spend any time with stray animals.