What is tinea?
Tinea is a type of fungal infection that commonly occurs on the feet including the toenails. Fungal infections like warm moist areas which is why they commonly occur on the feet due to the wearing of shoes and socks especially when sweating occurs.
Different symptoms of tinea occur depending on the type and where it is located on the foot.
- Tinea that occurs between the toes usually starts with the outside toes and appears as red peeling and skin with cracks.
- Tinea that occurs around the heel and sole of the foot may be very scaly and flaky.
- Nail fungal infection leads to thick, yellow/brown and sometimes disfigured nails
How to treat tinea
Applying an antifungal cream or gel is the best treatment for most types of tinea. Treatments can also come in a spray or liquid which suit some people.
Terbinafine (Lamisil) is the most effective agent. It also only needs to be applied once a day and usually resolves the infection quicker. Azoles such as clotrimazole (Canesten), bifonazole and miconazole take longer to eliminate the infection and most need to be used 2-3 times daily.
When a fungal infection involves a nail it is best treated with nail lacquer such as amorolfine (Loceryl). As nails are slow to grow it can take 6-12 months for toenail infections to totally go. In some cases oral medication prescribed by your Doctor is needed.
It is time to see your Doctor if there is no sign of skin improvement after 3 weeks of treatment and 3 months if there is no sign of improvement in nail treatment.
How to stop tinea from coming back
It is important to keep feet as dry as possible to prevent tinea from coming back. This includes washing them well with soap and water each day and making sure they are totally dry especially between the toes
Wear cotton or wool socks rather than socks made from synthetic fibres as feet can breathe better in natural fabrics. Airing shoes in the sun as often as is possible and washing them also if possible reduces the risk of fungal infection.
Wear thongs in public showers to prevent infection. Fungal spores that cause infection can stay present in the shower for months after an infected person uses the shower.
Do not share towels or shoes and socks as infection can be passed on in this way.