Diagnosis Help Desk: Is It Athlete’s Foot or Dry Skin?

“I’d say 70% of cases — what they think is dry skin — is actually athlete’s foot,” says Sima Soltani DPM, a professor of surgery at George Washington University Medical Center. He adds that many patients go to a podiatrist after several years of unsuccessfully treating their “dry skin.”

The differences between a foot fungus and scaly, dry patches can be subtle. Web MD says that “athlete’s foot can look different in each person” — with some people experiencing peeling and cracking between the toes, while others have dryness or redness on the soles of their feet. We’ll give you a few ways of detecting just what you’re dealing with and treating the condition accordingly.

dry feet

Here is a case of dry feet. Notice the lack of redness, blisters, or pattern.
Image Source: DanLikesThis.info

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

A “ring” of dryness: By the time you see a “moccasin distribution” pattern, your athlete’s foot will have progressed significantly, according to podiatrist Mitchell J. Wachtel. Chronic athlete’s foot typically appears as a ring of dryness around the heel and on both sides of the foot up to the toes. The bottoms of the feet are also usually dry.

– Dry toes: Another tell-tale sign of athlete’s foot is dry skin between the toes. This is not a normal place to experience dry skin.

– Itching & burning: Itching, burning, and peeling are common symptoms of athlete’s foot, but are not evident in mild cases. Eventually, if left untreated, most cases of athlete’s foot fungus will progress to a point of discomfort.

athlete's foot dry skin

Most people believe this looks like dry skin. But could it be mild athlete’s foot? A podiatrist could tell you.
Image Source: Parenting101.LiveJournal.com

What Does Normal Dry Skin Look Like?

The skin on our feet lacks oil glands, so the feet are often dry. This common condition may also be caused by excessively hot showers, eczema, psoriasis, soaps, cold weather, aging, low humidity levels, or long periods spent in the sun. On the other hand, you may have athlete’s foot if you’ve been walking barefoot around swimming pools, showers, locker rooms, gyms, or park grass. Keep in mind that regular dry skin does not blister or turn red.

signs of athlete's foot

The skin between the toes does not usually become dry like this. Looks like athlete’s foot!
Image Source: WebMD.com

Treating Athlete’s Foot

If you have suffered from what appears to be “dry feet” for years, then it’s time to find the real culprit and cure. Over-the-counter creams like Tinactin and Lotrimin are common methods for treating foot fungus. People with suspected athlete’s foot should continue using the medication through the full course of treatment, rather than quitting when the symptoms clear up. Also, the medication should be applied two to three times daily. Nails Mag says that half of all cases may require prescription-strength topical medication.

Normal dry skin can be cured by a trip to the day spa for a pedicure, or by rubbing moisturizing lotion on the feet. However, if you suspect you have dry skin, doctors recommend treating it as athlete’s foot because the medication can still help a regular case of dry skin — whereas a moisturizing routine may actually help athlete’s foot fester by keeping the breeding grounds moist. Sound gross? It is! That’s why we recommend buying a SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer to kill the athlete’s foot fungus that is harbored inside your shoes, thus helping you prevent re-infection. Our UV light cannot cure athlete’s foot, but we can help you keep your shoes sanitary, helping you to avoid future foot fungus infections.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply