Athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection, causes peeling, itching and stinging skin on the big toe. The fungus can also spread to the toenails, resulting in crumbling. Your chances of getting a fungal infection increase when the skin is wet for long periods of time. Men are also more likely to get athlete’s foot, according to MayoClinic.com. Fortunately, this infection is easily treated.
A group of fungi called dermatophytes is responsible for athlete’s foot infections. The infection is highly contagious and transfers through contact with an infected person. Contact with contaminated items, such as floors, towels or shoes, spreads athlete's foot. The fungus thrives in damp places and in humid conditions.
An over-the-counter medication such as butenafine or clotrimazole treats athlete's foot infections. Use the medication and directed and keep the feet dry. If nonprescription methods aren’t getting rid of big toe peeling, contact your doctor. She can provide a prescription-strength topical antifungal medication, such as clotrimazole or miconazole, notes MayoClinic.com. Oral medications, such as fluconazole and terbinafine, are able to treat athlete's foot infections that don’t respond to other treatment methods.
Avoid bare feet while in public places, such as locker rooms and pools. Select socks made from natural materials, like cotton, recommends MayoClinic.com. If socks are damp, change them quickly to prevent creating a warm, wet environment in which fungus can grow. Purchase shoes made of rubber or vinyl, which provides better ventilation for the feet.
Using an antifungal powder on the feet daily also can help prevent athlete’s foot infections. Dry between the toes to get rid of excess moisture.
Avoid scratching athlete's foot infections. Scratching makes inflammation worse and puts you at higher risk for bacterial infection. If the toe becomes inflamed and irritated, contact your doctor. She can treat the secondary bacterial infection and assist with clearing up athlete’s foot.
If you have a weak immune system, you are at higher risk for developing athlete’s foot, according to MayoClinic.com. Talk with your doctor about preventive measures, such as using a daily powder if you develop frequent outbreaks of athlete’s infection. This will help avoid bacteria growth.