Summer Heat Increases Likelihood of Athlete's Foot and Other Fungal Infections

Jun 29, 1999, 01:00 ET from Ortho Dermatological

    SKILLMAN, N.J., June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Whether you're at the beach, pool
 club, gym, camp, work, or even hanging around the house, there's a good chance
 you may develop a fungal infection this summer.
     "Summer heat and humidity brings excess moisture and sweating to our
 bodies, creating the perfect setting for fungi to grow or fungal infections to
 develop," says dermatologist Guy Webster, M.D., Associate Professor and
 Director for Cutaneous Pharmacology at Thomas Jefferson University. "Fungi
 tend to thrive in warm, moist places, such as between the toes, in the groin,
 under the breasts, and other parts of the body."  One of every five persons
 gets a fungal infection at some time.
     Athlete's foot is the most common fungal skin infection in humans and
 affects an estimated 70 percent of adults.  It occurs mostly among teenagers
 and adult males.  Many people will develop it at least once in their lives.
     Contrary to popular belief, walking barefoot in places like public
 showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms are not the main causes of athletes
 foot, but they can be contributing factors.  "Sweaty feet, not drying feet
 well after swimming or bathing, tight shoes and socks which offer no
 ventilation, and a warm climate present the perfect setting for the fungus
 that causes athlete's foot to grow," notes Ronald Lepow, D.P.M.,
 president-elect of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
     Athlete's foot may affect different people in different ways.  Symptoms
 may include cracked, blistered and peeling areas between the toes, redness and
 scaling on the soles, and intense itching.  Athlete's foot may spread to other
 parts of the foot, including toenails.  The fungal infection can also extend
 to other parts of the body, notably the groin (commonly referred to as jock
 itch) and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch
 themselves elsewhere.
     Proper treatment of a fungal infection depends on the right diagnosis,
 which makes going to a physician so important, stresses Dr. Lepow.  Before
 treating what you think may be athlete's foot or some other fungal infection,
 he advises to check with your podiatrist or dermatologist, who can diagnose
 the condition and prescribe the correct course of treatment.
     Should you choose to first self-treat your athlete's foot with an over the
 counter antifungal cream, be advised that some of these products may relieve
 some symptoms fairly quickly, but don't necessarily alleviate the problem,
 cautions Dr. Webster.  "While your skin may look better and temporarily feel
 better, the infection can remain for some time afterwards.  Athlete's foot is
 notorious for its high rate of recurrence," he says.  If you notice no
 improvement within two weeks of using an over the counter product, he suggests
 you call your doctor to determine if a fungus is the cause of the problem.
     For athlete's foot and other fungal infections such as jock itch and
 ringworm of the skin, your doctor may prescribe SPECTAZOLE(R) (econazole
 nitrate 1%) Cream.  SPECTAZOLE is a prescription antifungal cream approved for
 treatment against nine major organisms, including yeast, more than twice as
 many than most other topical antifungal medications do.  In various clinical
 studies, a majority of patients with moderate to severe athlete's foot
 experienced early relief of symptoms, high cure rates, and low incidents of
 relapse following the recommended treatment with SPECTAZOLE.
     In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe foot soaks before applying
 antifungal creams.  If your athlete's foot is stubborn, antifungal oral
 medication may be prescribed.
     While it is not easy to prevent athlete's foot and other fungal
 infections, both doctors say you can take steps to lessen your chances of
 infection by following some simple rules:
     -- Wash your feet daily.
     -- Dry your feet thoroughly, especially in between your toes.
     -- Avoid tight footwear, especially in the summer.  Sandals are the best
        warm weather footwear.
     -- Wear cotton socks and change them daily or more frequently if they
        become damp. Don't wear socks made of synthetic materials.
     -- If possible, go barefoot at home.
     -- Dust an antifungal powder into your shoes in the summertime.
     "Don't let rashes go untreated," adds Dr. Webster.  "Not treating the rash
 at all can result in skin blisters and cracks that can lead to bacterial
     During clinical trials, approximately 3% of patients treated with
 SPECTAZOLE Cream reported side effects thought possibly to be due to the drug,
 consisting mainly of burning, itching, stinging and erythema (redness).
     For a free brochure on fungal and yeast infections or further information
 on SPECTAZOLE(R) (econazole nitrate 1%) Cream, including full U.S. Prescribing
 Information, call 1-800-426-7762 or e-mail your question to
     For further information about Athlete's Foot, visit the American Academy
 of Dermatology web site at and the American Podiatric Medical
 Association web site at

SOURCE Ortho Dermatological