02 Dec, 2015
Athlete’s Foot is a contagious fungal infection that primarily affects the skin on and around the feet. However, it may also affect heels, palms or the area between the fingers. Although known scientifically as Tinea Pedis, the infection is referred to as Athlete’s Foot due to the likelihood of catching it in public changing rooms, gyms or swimming pools.
The infection can result in burning and itching sensations, causing a significant level of discomfort for those who catch it.
Luckily, the condition is easily preventable by following a few simple guidelines:
Give your Feet a Thorough Wash
Ensure you wash your feet thoroughly each day, especially in between your toes. This will ensure any fungus is washed away before the infection develops.
To avoid or reduce foot perspiration, try using talcum powder on your feet to prevent sweat and moisture from becoming an issue. Remember, fungal infections are more likely to develop in warm, moist areas so it’s important to keep them dry.
Avoid Tight Shoes
Wearing tight shoes can cause an array of foot problems such as swelling or calluses, however, they will also encourage the feet to sweat, leading to the issues caused by perspiration.
Ensure your Feet are Dry before Wearing Socks
Avoid putting on any socks, stockings or tights before your feet have been thoroughly dried. The added moisture can heighten your risk of developing fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot.
Change your Socks Regularly
Be sure to change your socks daily, or even more frequently if you take part in strenuous exercise or a long walk. Change your socks as you change out of your gym clothes, especially if you’re prone to excess perspiration.
Take Care in Changing Areas
As changing rooms, public pool areas and gyms are the most common places to pick up the infection, it’s especially important to take care whilst in such vicinities.
Pack a pair of slippers or flip-flops in your gym bag to wear instead of going barefoot. These are designed to be worn in public so don’t worry about looking out of place. Regardless of style, protecting your feet comes first!
Switch up your Footwear
If you wear the same shoes every day, they will begin to accumulate perspiration and dirt, especially if they’re worn for sports or running. Try to alternate between different pairs to ensure you have dry shoes each day.
Avoid Sharing Shoes
When borrowing someone else’s shoes, you may not know whether they have Athlete’s Foot or other fungal or bacterial infections. If you can’t be certain, it’s a good idea to stick to shoes of your own and eliminate the risk.
Wash Towels and Bedding Regularly
Fungus likes to hide out in towels or soft furnishings, so ensure they’re frequently cleaned to stop any accumulated fungus from spreading.
By taking these steps to prevent Athlete’s Foot, you’ll be at a much lower risk of developing the condition. After all, prevention is better than the cure!
Rwanda is a small ambitious country known as the land of 1000 hills with a population around 12 million and a rapidly growing economy. It has rolling hills for as far as you can see, a rain forest, gorillas and volcanoes, making for quite the site to any visitor. However, it is also known for the 1994 genocide in which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days across the country.
This tragic event has led to some very big health issues, which the country still faces, but thanks to a range of donor funding and strong political leadership, the country is on its way to quickly becoming a middle-income country.
As countries shift from low incomes to middle income economies, health issues become complex, where the country can face a mix of communicable disease (ie. malaria, HIV, TB) and the introduction of non-communicable disease (ie. diabetes, high BP, cholesterol) with changes in lifestyles.
Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with podiatry?
Well, as clinicians we play a role in the overall wellbeing of every patient that walks through our door for treatment and we become advocates for a number public health issues. While our specialist area is focused on the foot and ankle, an understanding of the bodily systems is imperative for understanding the impacts on the lower limb. This allows us to transition from clinical practice to other work streams such as health policy, public health programmes, service management and research.
As a podiatrist with a public health background, the increase of diabetes and chronic conditions in developing nations has become of personal interest. In many of these countries, diabetes is poorly understood and without proper prevention and care, can lead to a large economic burdens on the healthcare system. In 2012, the UK alone spent a whopping £639 million on foot ulcers and £662 on lower limb amputations, so the prevention and monitoring of these conditions is of paramount importance in the developing world.
The quality of life for individuals with diabetes is also drastically affected if not controlled, impacting mobility, footwear and overall lifestyle. Additionally, chronic ulceration and limb amputation, creates an increases risk (approximately 80%) of mortality within the first 5 years post amputation.
How did all this lead me to Africa, I hear you say?
In April of 2016, I (sadly) departed from the Betafeet clinic to implement an mhealth project in Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project, allows patients across the country to speak with a doctor and receive a prescription via SMS through their mobile phone, reducing the travel time, wait time and expense of receiving care from one of the local physical hospitals. The system is also working on monitoring both communicable and non-communicable disease using artificial intelligence, engaging patients to take ownership of their health.
This could be a major milestone for a country with stretched resources. To put things into perspective, over 80% of the population lives in remote areas of the country and works in the ‘in-formal’ sector as subsistence farmers with an average income of 2-3 dollars per day, which is not very much. To receive care, a patient may travel over an hour to reach their nearest hospital where a doctor is present and then wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days to receive the care they need. However almost 80% of the population already has a mobile phone.
Appropriate access to clinical care is a large part of the prevention and management of many conditions and undertaking this project has been a great experience. As a clinician, I have had the opportunity to utilise my knowledge to develop operational pathways and input into the technology development to shape the way patients receive their care.
It is with
this experience I now look to move on to my next adventure focusing on Aboriginals
and the utilisation of technology in the prevention of major non communicable
disease such as diabetes.
Final comment from Reggie Simpson and Betafeet Podiatry
We wish Andre the very best in his future and thank him for this interesting blog account. We look forward to his next blog focused on his work with the Aboriginal population.