Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
I just noticed that I have something icky between my 4thand 5th toes. It looks scaly and it is starting to itch. What do I do?
Dear Itchy Scratchy,
I bet now that you have noticed it that the itch is getting even worse. At least that is what would happen to me.
It sounds to me like you have picked up a fungal infection. Fungus loves to invade and grow in warm moist areas of the skin, like between the 4th and 5th toes. You have probably heard of it by its more common name, athlete’s foot.
Since relief is at the top of your list right now, let’s talk about what you should do to stop your itchiness. The first step that you would want to take is to get to the drug store and pick up an over the counter anti-fungal powder or cream. You want to get a product with miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate as an active ingredient. Follow the package directions and it may take care of the infection. If not, it is time to go see your friendly local podiatrist to get some additional firepower against that infection.
Now, if your symptoms get worse – like you see red streaks going up your foot or the area is very sore and swollen or you develop a fever, go to the doctor right away. If you have diabetes, you should go to the doctor for treatment. Diabetics have a harder time healing and you should be under the doctor’s care for any foot problems.
Besides using the medicine, there are some things you should do to guard against re-infection. You need to make sure that you wear flip flops when you are in public showers, at the pool or in a gym locker room. The floor in a shower or around a pool is the perfect breeding ground for the fungus. Also, you need to be careful around other people who have athletes foot because you can get the infection from them. Towels, shoes, bed linens will all serve as hosts for the fungus. So, make sure you use your own towel, change your sheets weekly, and don’t wear someone else’s shoes.
After you shower, make sure you dry your feet – especially between the toes. Wear socks to help wick the moisture away from your feet and give your shoes a chance to dry out between times you wear them – especially your gym shoes that get pretty damp when you exercise. You should also stick to shoes that are well ventilated and made of natural materials like leather. No plastic shoes – fungus loves them!
Also, you should remember that during the summer when you are wearing sandals that your feet can get pretty dry. You need to moisturize your skin but do not load up the moisturizer between your toes where it can become a warm damp place. If you skin is too dry, it will crack and that will allow the fungus an easy entry point. So keep your feet moisturized but not soaking in the lotion
Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute
333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1825
Chicago, IL 60601