Fungal infections manifest themselves in many different ways. A fungal skin infection is hard to miss once the tell-tale itchy, red patches arise. Athlete’s foot is a common fungal skin infection that is contracted from touching one’s bare foot onto a dermatophyte present in the environment. While our skin is teeming with dermatophyte organisms, they won’t do us harm unless there is a break in the skin’s barrier. Unfortunately, something as small as a cracked heel, a bent cuticle, an ingrown toenail, or a blister can be a way for pathogens to invade the body and cause sickness.
Foot Fungus Troubles the Skin
Did you know that athlete’s foot fungus is the same thing as ringworm and jock itch — just in a different part of the body? When left untreated, athlete’s foot progresses from itching redness on the sole or in between the toes to infecting more and more of the body. Usually it begins with one part of the foot or one toe and spreads to others. The fungal infection can then spread to other “damp” regions of the body — the breasts, groin, and scalp, for instance. As the skin flakes off, the pathogens spread. Immunocompromised patients with cancer, HIV, or another disease are especially prone to developing widespread infection involving the entire skin.
Fungal Nail Infections
Most commonly, athlete’s foot leads to toenail fungus as well. While athlete’s foot can be cured within a few weeks by using a simple over-the-counter topical cream available at any pharmacy, toenail fungus is much more insidious. It can take some individuals a full year to be rid of the fungus, and treatments are expensive, but not always effective. Toenail fungus causes the nails to turn thick, yellow, and crumble around the edges. In the worst cases, the nails may turn black and even fall off!
Other Body Parts Affected by Fungal Infections
According to the American Society for Microbiology, athlete’s foot is an example of a mycoses disease, which may produce “secondary metabolites… that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals.” They add that, “some infections remain localized, while others progress to systemic infection.” A person with athlete’s foot is more susceptible to pick up a dangerous secondary infection from a virus, bacteria, or another fungus.
Mycotoxins can affect such body partsas:
– The mouth – Pain swallowing or talking
– The ear – Intense itching and secretions
– The nose – Causing pneumonia symptoms
– The heart – Abnormal rhythms
– The GI tract – Stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting
– The kidneys – Renal failure
– The brain – Loss of consciousness, paralysis, seizures
Prolonged Use of Medication Disturbs the System
Fungal infections need to be treated with antibiotics or corticosteroid medication. These solutions can be so heavy-handed that the good bacteria in the body gets wiped out, along with the infection. For instance, some patients come down with antibiotic-associated colitis when the friendly bacteria in the gut is killed off and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) makes the intestines its home — growing out of control and producing toxins that cause severe pain and diarrhea.
Other patients taking corticosteroid medication may suffer skin irritation, glaucoma, fluid retention, mood swings, high blood sugar, slow wound healing, and hormonal disturbances. The longer you have to take a particular medication, the more at risk you are for developing severe side effects.
The Bottom Line
We’re certainly not saying athlete’s foot always leads to such serious consequences. Sometimes you just have an ugly, itchy foot for a couple of weeks and you get better. However, it can also be a game-changer for certain populations, so it’s best to prevent the escalation of a fungal skin infection. The SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer is a valuable weapon in eliminating foot fungus for good. In addition to maintaining excellent hygiene by washing daily and laundering your socks, towels, and sheets, you should also sanitize all footwear to get rid of fungal spores. Buy a SteriShoe ultraviolet shoe sanitizer here.