Tips To Prevent And Treat Athlete’s Foot In Children

What Is Athlete's Foot?

Tinea pedis, or better known as Athlete's foot, is a type of fungal infection on the surface of the skin. This fungus eats old and dead skin cells, which are commonly found on the feet and between the toes. The name of this infection is due to the fact that athletes usually get it. This is because the fungus grows in areas where athletes or active people usually are. Nonetheless, anybody can get infected, because it is contagious.

Take Home Message:
Tinea pedis is a fungal infection commonly found on the feet and between the toes. This fungi grows in moist and wet areas and like to eat dead skin cells.

How Did My Child Get It?

Children are at a lower risk of getting the infection, in comparison with teenagers and adults, but, it is still possible. The fungus grows on warm and damp surfaces, however, the biggest problem is that you do not know where the fungus might be. If someone who is infected touches something and then you touch that same object or surface, you are at a very high risk of getting infected.

Your child could have become infected from:

  • Locker rooms
  • Showers
  • Public toilets
  • Around swimming pools
  • Damp towels
  • Walking barefoot
  • Having sweaty and damp feet
  • Not changing dirty sweaty socks and shoes often
  • Dirty bedding
  • Not drying properly between the toes after bathing or swimming
Child Feet Standing by the Pool

One of the reasons why your child could get infected can be due to hygiene neglect. For example, putting damp warm feet in tight-fitting socks can increase the risk of getting infected. You as a parent must help and teach your child how to stay clean and dry. This is not the only reason for getting this fungal infection. Your child may just get out of the swimming pool and walk in an area where someone else walked that is infected. This is basically all up to chance, however, there are ways to lower the risk.

Take Home Message:
Your child can become infected by coming into contact with an area, surface, or object that was previously in contact with another individual that was infected. Most common places include locker rooms, public showers and toilets, around swimming pools, and due to damp warm feet.

Signs And Symptoms

As the name states, the fungal infection is present on the feet, however, it is more commonly found between the toes. This is because this area is moist and warm. It usually occurs between the fourth and fifth toes. The area that is infected may be red and form a scaly rash. The skin between the toes may look lumpy with an off-white color and may have an unpleasant odor. It usually causes an itching, burning, and stinging sensation. Certain types of athlete's foot could cause blisters and ulcers. Other symptoms could include the dryness and scaling on the soles of the feet. The infection can even spread to the hands and under the nails due to constant touching and scratching of the feet.

Take Home Message:
The infection can usually be found on the soles of the feet and between the toes. It could either present a red scaly rash or in more severe cases it could cause blisters and ulcers.

Preventative Measures

Do you remember your parents telling you to wear flip-flops when taking a shower in a public bathroom as a child? Well, this was to help prevent you from getting a fungal infection. Now you will be telling your children to do the same. As mentioned above, you do not know where fungus may be lurking. The best way to prevent an infection is to not make contact with any areas in public bathrooms and locker rooms.

Furthermore, it is wise to ensure your child always has clean dry clothes, socks, bedding, and towels. It is also best to teach your child to not use another individual's towel, clothes, or shoes. Teach your child from small to change their socks at least once a day and to air any closed shoes before wearing them again. Also, help your child and teach them to dry their body properly, focusing between the toes as well. You can also spray your child's shoes with a disinfectant or put an antifungal powder in their shoes. Taking all these measures to stay clean and dry will be the best way to prevent your child getting infected.

Take Home Message:
You can help your child prevent infection by teaching them to wear flip-flops in public areas, dry their feet properly and also ensure their clothes, bedding, and towels are clean and dry.

How Do You Treat Athlete's Foot?

Female Applying Antifungal Powder

The easiest way to treat an infection like this is to purchase an over-the-counter antifungal cream, spray, or powder. This is usually for a mild infection. Remember to supervise and help your child by applying the product provided and ensure it is used as recommended. It is also best to use the product even if the infection has disappeared. The infection may return if it has not fully cleared up. Most mild cases usually last for about 2 weeks. If your child has a more serious case, it is best to see a doctor and get a diagnosis and to provide relief from athlete's foot. The doctor may then recommend a prescription medication which will either be in a form of a topical application or in pill form. In addition, one can follow the prevention measures during and after the treatment to provide extra relief.

Take Home Message:
Luckily, even though it is contagious, it can be treated and may clear up within 2 weeks. For mild cases, a cream, spray, or powder can be used which you can purchase over-the-counter. In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe a topical cream or pills.

Our Ultimate Take Home Message

In conclusion, your child can become infected due to many reasons involving wet towels, damp feet, and infected public bathrooms and locker rooms. Even though you can't physically see fungus on the bathroom floor, you can still help lower the risk of your child becoming infected. Ways to do this include teaching children a few basic rules and guidelines such as wearing flip-flops in public showers or changing their socks at least once a day. However, if your child does become infected, the areas around the soles of the feet and between the toes will present a scaly rash that is red. Luckily it can be treated with an antifungal spray, powder, or cream in mild cases. These usually last up to 2 weeks. If your child has a more serious case, a doctor may prescribe a topical cream or pills.

It is always best to ensure your child is wearing clean dry clothes, socks, and shoes and that their bedding and towels are also changed regularly. Having athlete's foot can be be uncomfortable and an inconvenience, but fast relief is possible!

Researched and written by experts, brought to you by our team at Mommy Authority.

Kari is a main contributing writer for MommyAuthority and has written for many other outlets regarding diet, nutrition and psychology. After becoming a mom herself, her new found passion, relating to motherhood, is now incorporated in her research and writings.