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eMed previously Babylon Health

Foot Infections

Reviewed by Dr Claudia Pastides, 24th April 2019

If you have a problem affecting your feet, it can be tempting to ignore it and hope it solves itself. But left untreated, certain foot infections and other conditions can cause serious pain and even affect your ability to walk. A fungal nail infection, for example, can cause the affected toenails to lift from the bed, causing severe pain. An ingrown toenail may also make putting weight on your foot painful. Whether you have athlete’s foot, a fungal nail infection or another kind of foot condition, get in touch with our doctors today for a diagnosis, and to discuss treatment options going forward.

Common foot infections

Some of the most common foot infections include:

  • Athlete’s foot - this is a fungal infection. You may notice an itchy flaky rash between your toes or on the soles of the feet. This rash can also be painful and there may be blistering or red areas too. Athlete’s foot is contagious so it’s easily spread to others.
  • Fungal nail infection - fungal nail infections of the feet can cause your toenails to become brittle, yellow and thickened. This can also be painful, especially if pressure is placed on the nail, or if the skin next to the nail becomes infected. Like other issues caused by fungus, these infections thrive in damp, warm conditions and can be picked up in shared bathrooms, local leisure centres or gyms.
  • Ingrown toenail - this occurs when the side of the toenail begins to dig into the surrounding skin. This can lead to an infection and you may notice pus, bleeding or worsening pain.

Preventing foot infections

The most common foot infections - athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections - can be avoided by avoiding being barefoot in communal areas. Fungus breeds and grows in moist, warm conditions, so it’s important to ensure that your feet are ventilated and kept as dry as possible during the day. Keeping your feet clean and dry, and wearing clean socks (also not sharing socks) will help to prevent these infections. If you regularly go to public swimming pools or gyms where these infections can be rife, consider wearing flip-flops to prevent your feet from coming into contact with the floor.

Treating foot infections

Treatment for your foot infection will obviously depend on what type of condition you’re suffering from. Any infection that is caused by fungus (athlete’s foot or fungal nail infection, for example) will require an antifungal treatment to kill off the fungi and help you recover. Your doctor will provide tips on how to treat an ingrown toenail in the comfort of your home - but if the condition does not improve in time, you may need minor surgery to rectify the issue and remove the part of the toenail which is growing into the surrounding skin.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.