Finding small red bumps on the bottom of your foot can be alarming. However, usually the cause of these bumps is a benign and treatable condition known as athlete's foot. Treatment consists of non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic measures and is relatively simple. However, you should make sure you treat your athlete's foot appropriately to decrease the chances that it will continue to recur later in life.
While the most common cause of small red bumps on the bottom of your foot is a fungal infection known as tinea pedis, or athlete's foot, according to Moise Levy and John Browning in "Long's Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Disease," several other diseases may present similarly. These include contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis--which is associated with asthma--bacterial infection and psoriasis.
About Athlete's Foot
According to Levy and Browning, athlete's foot is most common in adolescents and adults and is most likely to occur on moist, rather than dry, feet. As detailed by Timothy Berger in "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment," other symptoms of athlete's foot include the formation of scaly, itchy skin on the feet, particularly in the area between the toes.
Diagnosis is confirmed with a scraping taken of the potentially infected areas on your foot. The skin obtained from the scraping is put onto a microscope slide and potassium hydroxide is applied to it. Potassium hydroxide causes everything but fungi to dissolve so that if there are fungi in the sample, they are the only thing visible when the slide is examined under a microscope.
According to Fred Ferri, in his "Ferri's Clinical Advisor," the treatment of athlete's foot is two-fold. First, you should make sure to keep your foot clean and dry, as dirty, damp feet are a fertile ground for fungal growth. Second, you should apply a topical steroid preparation to the affected areas of your foot for two to four weeks.
Prevention is primarily effected by proper foot hygiene. Feet should be dried thoroughly each time they are wet. Socks should be changed if they become wet. Drying powders may be applied to your foot if you are unable to keep them dry with towels alone. Unfortunately, despite appropriate preventative care, most people with atheletes foot will continue to experience recurrences throughout their lives. Luckily, with proper treatment, these re-occurrences are easily managed.