Chilblains - Athlete's Foot - Causes, Symptoms and Remedies

Chilblain is an infection caused by the fungi Trichophyton mentagrophytes or Trichophyton rubrum, which attacks preferentially the soles of the feet and the spaces between the fingers. Also known as tinea pedis or athlete's foot, chilblain is the most common mycosis of skin in the world.

Athlete's foot is an infection that is acquired when walking frequently barefoot in humid places contaminated by the Trichophyton fungus, such as saunas, swimming pools, showers and public locker rooms.

The most common symptoms are itching between the toes, redness, peeling and cracking of the skin. Dryness of the soles of the feet, with thickening of the skin and pain are also quite common.

The treatment of chilblains is usually done with antifungal ointments, such as terbinafine or naftifine.

Chilblains and Athlete`s foot
Chilblains and Athlete`s foot

Causes of chilblains

Dermatophytosis is the name given to a group of superficial mycoses of the skin, nails and hairs. Dermatophyte fungi, that is, fungi that cause dermatophytoses, are those of the genera Trichophyton, Microsporum or Epidermophyton.

Dermatophytosis can affect various areas of the body, such as scalp (called tinea capitis), ringworm in groin (tinea cruris), beard (tinea barbae) or trunk and limbs (tinea corporis).

Frieira is the popular name for dermatophytosis of the feet (tinea pedis), usually caused by the fungi Trichophyton mentagrophytes or Trichophyton rubrum .

How to handle chilblains

Dermatophytes are fungi that reproduce most easily in humid, hot, and enclosed places. In general, athlete's foot is an infection that occurs when walking barefoot in humid places contaminated by the Trichophyton fungus , such as saunas, swimming pools, showers and public locker rooms.

However, it is not enough to have contact with the fungus to develop the chilblain. The Trichophyton need certain conditions to grow, such as heat and humidity. In addition to the ideal conditions for fungal growth, some people seem to be naturally more susceptible to tinea pedis than others. There are many couples who share the same shower for years without any transmission of the fungus between them. The exact cause of this susceptibility to skin mycoses is unknown.

People who excessively sweat, HIV positive, diabetics, immunosuppressed people with onychomycosis, psoriasis patients or other skin diseases affecting the feet are at higher risk of developing dermatophytosis on the feet. However, completely healthy people may also have athlete's foot.

One of the main risk factors is the frequent use of sneakers for sports activity. The foot fungus finds these shoes an excellent environment for their growth, because in addition to being closed, sneakers are often wet and hot. This is the reason for the chill also be called "athlete's foot". Changing rooms for bodybuilding clubs and clubs are places with a high rate of Trichophyton contamination , as they are hot, humid places with little or no sun exposure and frequented by people who often have their feet also wet and warm due to physical activities with closed shoes.


Interdigital involvement (between the toes) is the most common form of chill. The most common symptoms are itching between the toes, usually between the 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers, with redness, peeling and cracking of the skin. The lesions can spread and also affect the sole of the foot.

Mycosis of the nail (onychomycosis) is often present along with the appliance. Another possible symptom of the chilbler is the bad smell of the feet.

A common presentation of the chilblains is a dry soles of the feet, with thickening of the skin, peeling, redness and pain in the affected region. Often, one hand is also affected, in a frame called presentation "two feet and one hand".

The inflammatory form is the least common and is characterized by the presence of painful and pruritic red blisters. In these cases, the lesions can become contaminated with bacteria of the skin, provoking cellulite or erysipelas.


The same person may have a cold wash several times in his life. The patient does not create immunity against the fungus. Therefore, preventive measures are important.

Keeping feet often dry and well washed is the main way to reduce the incidence of the appliance.

Some other tips are also important in prevention:
  • Never walk in public locker rooms, showers or public restrooms. At the very least, wear slippers.
  • After wetting your feet before making any shoes, make sure they are dry, especially in the regions between the toes.
  • Over the long day, keep your feet as long as possible in contact with the air. Avoid keeping your feet closed in shoes for several hours, especially in hot environments.
  • After exercising, wash your feet and change your socks and wet shoes.
  • Keep nails always short and clean.
  • Wash your feet daily.
  • Do not share socks and shoes with other people.
  • Use antifungal powder to keep your feet dry.

Chiropractic remedies

The treatment of the chilbler can be done with antifungal ointments, many of them sold without prescription. Chilling ointments with terbinafine or naftifine are the ones with the best results. Other options include ointments with ketoconazole, miconazole, clotrimazole, or butenafine. The treatment is usually done 1 or 2 times a day, for 4 weeks.

Creams or ointments based on nystatin are used for candidiasis, but not for dermatophytosis, such as chilblains.

You should also avoid ointments that contain corticosteroids in your formula, such as betamethasone, as it can disrupt treatment and mask symptoms.

Patients with more extensive or oily resistant infants should be treated with oral antifungal agents. The most effective cold remedies are terbinafine, itraconazole or fluconazole. The treatment lasts from 1 to 6 weeks, depending on the case and the drug chosen.

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