Is It Athlete’s Foot or Eczema?
Part of the difficulty of diagnosing eczema is that there are many other, similar skin conditions out there. Psoriasis, Rosacea, and in the case of the feet, Athlete’s Foot. All of these conditions can cause redness, dry skin, and itching, but there are subtle differences between them. So what if you start to develop red, painful cracks and dry skin on your feet? Which is it, eczema or athlete’s foot? Do you reach for the steroidal or the antifungal cream?
The best way to tell the difference is to have your doctor tell you the difference. If you have a terrible case of either, seeing the doctor is a necessity. Once they know exactly what you have, they can prescribe something that, in the case of athlete’s foot, clears it up, or in the case of eczema, calms it down.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the feet, usually between the toes. It generally appears as a red, painful rash that itches. This fungal infection is usually picked up in moist places like a gym shower floor. This is why it commonly strikes athletes. It can be extremely contagious and is made worse when the feet are put into warm, moist, enclosed spaces like, say, shoes. If it is a mild case, a simple over the counter antifungal cream should be able to cure it. The best way to get rid of athlete's foot is to take a warm shower, towel your feet off and spray or apply an anti-fungal. Apply breathable, moisture wicking sock and wear to bed. Make sure to spray your shower or tub with the anti-fungal as well. This will ensure you don't reinfect yourself. You can also spray your feet in the morning and apply socks. For breathable, moisture wicking socks shop here. If it is a major case, your doctor will want to prescribe something a little stronger.
Eczema on the feet can actually present in a somewhat different fashion that it does elsewhere on the body. One form found on the feet and hands is called dyshidrotic eczema. Clusters of tiny, fluid filled blisters appear, accompanied by the usual redness and dry skin. As they burst, they can become incredibly itchy, just like with regular eczema. Dyshidrotic eczema can be extremely uncomfortable as, depending on where the blisters form on your feet, you could be walking on them all day. After the blisters heal, you might notice that the skin feels thicker and rougher. Like with other forms of eczema, learning your triggers is the best way to avoid flare-ups. Make sure that you don’t have a sensitivity to the fabric in your socks. Always use an eczema-safe soap when cleaning them and always use the extra rinse cycle when laundering your socks. If you do suffer from dyshidrotic eczema, do NOT pop the blisters as this will further irritate the skin, actually increase the level of itchiness, and increase the possibility of a skin infection.
Watch this video on treating foot eczema.
Although they can present with similar symptoms, athlete’s foot and eczema are not actually all that similar. One is incredibly contagious while the other is not. If you suspect that you have either one, you should immediately consider going to the doctor. Being on your feet all day is tough enough without having to deal with itching and pain as well.