Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the feet. Though more common among people who exercise or play sports, many children are now increasingly suffering from the disease. Fungus thrives in warm, dark, moist places, such as the inside of a shoe, locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools. A child’s bare feet come in contact with the fungus that causes athlete’s foot when he walks through a contaminated area.
The risk factors that increase a child’s likelihood of contracting athlete’s foot include a previous history of athlete’s foot infection, a child walking barefoot in locker rooms or public places, failure to keep the feet clean and dry, dressing a child in air-tight or poorly ventilated shoes or boots in hot/humid weather and a child with a low immunity.
The symptoms usually start between the toes spreading to the soles or arches of the feet or to the toenails if the infection continues. Other symptoms include dry skin; itching, which gets worse as the infection spreads; scaling; cracking; redness; a white, wet surface and blisters that may open and become painful.
A key to treatment is to ensure good foot hygiene. The doctor may also prescribe an antifungal cream. Ensure that you gently wash the child’s feet often with soap and water, then completely dry all areas, including between the toes. Shoes and socks should be changed frequently. It is important to continue taking any prescribed medication for the entire prescribed time. Stopping any medication without the doctor’s approval often results in another infection. Treatment may take a while, usually four to eight weeks before complete cure. Remember to wash your hands after applying topical medications.
Clothing the child in cotton socks that pull moisture away from the skin may be helpful in preventing athlete’s foot. A child’s socks should be promptly changed when they become damp. You may also take off the child’s shoes and socks when at home and not at risk of sustaining pricks or injury to the feet.