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There’s a fungus amongus.
Lame, I know. But no better way to start a conversation about jock itch and athlete’s foot than with a joke!
Jock itch and athlete’s foot (also known as ‘ringworm’ of the foot) are both fungal infections of the skin that cause scaling, flaking and itching. They are caused by fungi (don’t you love that word? fun-ji? like there’s anything fun about it?) in the genus Trichophyton. Most commonly seen on the foot (it’s typically transmitted in moist areas where people walk barefoot), it can also spread to other areas of the body, including the groin (now called ‘jock itch’).
Now I’ve always thought that jock itch was something only men experienced. After all, they tend not to be as hygience-conscious as us women (although my husband is a 3-showers-a-day kind of guy; go figure) and they have those dangly bits that brush against each other keeping folds of skin moist; the perfect breeding ground for Trichophyton.
But just yesterday, a friend and class participant of mine told me that she had recently been diagnosed with it. The most likely mode of infection? Stepping into clean panties after a shower at the gym. Fungus on the floor may have come into contact with the fabric of her panties via her feet, and presto, a nasty fungal infection of the lady parts. Yikes! Yet another reason to go home for a shower after a workout!
I myself have had athlete’s foot on and off for years. Some weeks it’s worse than others. When it’s really bad, my entire foot (just my left foot, weirdly enough) is scaly and red, with small patches of blisters that itch like the dickens. Especially at night. For some reason, the itching is worse when I’m feeling stressed and during the week before my period arrives. Hmm.
I’ve visited my doctor, repeatedly. He always dishes out the same advice; apply anti-fungal cream twice daily, change your socks and shoes frequently, avoid greasy foot lotions (which may exacerbate the problem) and line your shoes with a fine layer of sweat-absorbing foot powder.
I’ve done it all. Diligently. Repeatedly.
I’ve changed products (there are lots of different products on the market, some just different brands with the same active ingredients, others with different ingredients that might be expected to be better at combatting different species of fungus). I’ve discovered that if you put too much powder in your running shoes before you teach a step class, grape vine will leave you slipping and sliding and landing on your keister (excess powder has a way of whooshing itself through the tiny vents in your shoes!).
Just last week, I switched products again and realized, today, that I haven’t been itchy all week. No fungally-induced insomnia. No weeping blisters. No scaly patches. Is it really gone? (I realize, that just by writing this, I’m daring the fungus gods to inflict on me the worst bout of night scratchies I’ve ever experienced; call me reckless). Only time will tell. (For the record, the active ingredient in the product I’m currently using is tolnaftate 1% USP).
I’ve always been embarrassed to talk about my ‘foot problem’. I don’t do pedicures with the girls, because I don’t want an aesthetician touching my feet. I usually wear shoes that cover my toes and have only recently gotten comfortable going bare foot in yoga (“there is no judgement on the mat”). Perhaps this is the year I wear flip flops with pride!
Have you ever had a bad case of athlete’s foot? (You don’t have to tell me about your experiences with ‘jock itch’!)
What product or products did you use to cure it?
Tell me about your other embarrassing bodily afflictions; education leads to acceptance!
P.S. Thanks B. for suggesting that I write a post about fungus. Hope your itch is gone soon! xoxo