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October 6, 2003

Other Illnesses

Question from Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA:

I'm 13 years old, have had type 1 diabetes for 10 years, and I use an insulin pump. I get athletes' feet a lot, and it's hard to get rid of. Is this a symptom of peripheral neuropathy?

Answer:

No, this is not diabetic neuropathy. This may simply be a reflection of an active, early teen who sweats and wears smelly old sneakers, or it may be that plus the addition of diabetes.

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus, a type of simple organism. The plural of fungus is “fungi.” (Mushrooms are fungi, so is mold). Fungi grow best in places that are dark and moist and with an easy food supply. So fungi love sugar. If your glucose levels are not in good control, that can predispose you to fungal infections.

What can you do? Wear cotton socks rather than polyester. Let your feet and shoes dry out and get some sunlight exposure! Wash those feet with soap. Wash the shoes occasionally. Various medicines can help fungal infections go away soon. Over-the-counter anti-fungals include name-brand products such as Tinactin, Lotrimen, Desitin, and others. My favorite is Lamisil because you do not need to apply it nearly as often as the others, and it works faster. Of course, keep those your sugars in better control!

DS