Foot and ankle problems usually fall into the following categories:
- Acquired from improper footwear, physical stress, or small mechanical changes within the foot.
- Arthritic foot problems, which typically involve one or more joint.
- Congenital foot problems, which occur at birth, are generally inherited.
- Infectious foot problems, which are caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal disorders.
- Neoplastic disorders, usually called tumors, which are the result of abnormal growth of tissue and may be benign or malignant.
- Traumatic foot problems, which are associated with foot and ankle injuries.
Athlete's foot is a skin infection caused by fungus. A fungal infection may occur on any part of the body; on the foot it is called athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis. Fungus commonly attacks the feet because it thrives in a dark, moist, warm environment such as a shoe.
Fungal infections are more common in warm weather when feet tend to sweat more. Fungus thrives in damp areas such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. Athletes commonly have sweaty feet and use the facilities where fungus is commonly found, thus the term "athlete's foot."
Athlete's foot usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin. It is commonly seen on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. In advanced cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form; an infection caused by bacteria can also result. The fungus can spread to other areas of the body, including toenails.
Avoiding walking barefoot combined with good foot hygiene can help reduce the spread of the fungus. Feet should be washed every day with soap and water and thoroughly dried, including between the toes. Feet should be kept as dry as possible. If your feet sweat a lot you may need to change your socks during the day. Anti-fungal powders, sprays, and/or creams are often utilized to treat athlete's foot. Your foot and ankle surgeon will recommend the best treatment for you.