Ill-mannered fungus continues to embarrass the delicate toes of A. Nony Mous

  1. It was circa 1995 when athlete's foot first reared its ugly head, embarrassing the elegant toes of A. Nony Mous.

    A. Nony believes that using a gym shower may have provided the gateway for the itchy menace.

    At first, it appeared that the goo prescribed by her doctor had vanquished the unwelcome fungus, but alas, such was not to be, and over a decade and a host of goos, potions, balms and glops later, both over-the-counter and doctor-prescribed, A. Nony's dainty feet continue to cower in shame, still plagued by this most unlovely affliction.

    She has heard of some pills that her doctor might be able to prescribe, but has also heard that these pills do not have a 100% cure rate, and that they can damage the liver.

    I apologize for the delay in posting A. Nony's question, I have been besieged by such intense family invasions that I have been obliged to be away from the keyboard.

    My reply: I remember reading somewhere in a magazine for dermatologists that the number one treatment rule is "if it's dry, wet it. If it's wet, dry it."

    This evidence that I have spent entirely too much time in the waiting rooms of skin shamans was a reference to the uncertainty of the science, and just about any dermatologist will tell you that it is rare that a single day passes without a patient whose problem they cannot diagnose with 100% accuracy, much less cure it.

    As someone who is not without dermatologic issues of my own I think about that little passage often, as I smear myself with my own little tubes of goo and glop, which make my own little rashes and patches go away - until they come back, get re-smeared, go away, come back, lather, rinse, repeat.

    You do not say how many dermatologists you have consulted over the past 12 years, or how many have been able to diagnose your problem as athlete's foot with any degree of certainty, or by using any diagnostic method beyond looking at it and reflecting that it looks to them like athlete's foot.

    Especially if the pills you refer to are specifically intended to treat a particular fungus, I would first of all get your dermatologist to do some tests, and have some lab rats do some peeping at slides, etc and see with just what degree of certainty what you have is athlete's foot in the first place.

    It could be that it is something else entirely, either always was or is now, anything is possible.

    Then I would get a second opinion, and a second battery of tests, and a second slide-peeping by a second gaggle of lab rats, and discuss with both dermatologists the relative risks of the pills versus your particular condition.

    I would also be prepared for the possibility that no one will be able to provide a sure and certain diagnosis, and that whatever it is is simply not going to be cured forever, and that you may, like me and millions of other people, have to sigh resignedly at patches and rashes that no one can definitively identify, and smear them with goos and glops that make them go away - until they come back.

    The goos that seem to work best for me are Halobetasol and Dovonex (calcipotriene). One in the morning, the other at night for a couple of weeks will dispatch my own dermatological unpleasantness for about 10 weeks, once for 3 whole months.

    You could also ask your doctor about those, if you haven't tried them yet, my own issues involve a knee, a bit of back, and interestingly, fingers but not toes (at least not yet) but I don't see why they wouldn't work just as well on toes as anywhere else.

    I wish I could be more optimistic, but such is the nature of our skin, and the millions of organisms that attack it, that about the best I can say is that you should be able to keep yourself rash-free at least most of the time.

    Maybe someone else will have a better answer for both of us and all those who share our annoying plight!
  2. Interesting... Sounds like two different rashes/problems to me.

    One indeed sounds like a fungal infection if it's afflicting the feet/toenails. Probably the best treatment after creams and topicals is taking tablets to ward off the fungus from the inside out. Fungus infections tend to penetrate deep into the skin so topicals usually aren't able to treat the infection entirely. It may take it away temporarily(treating only the upper portion of the skin) but eventually the fungus will come back(the untreated deeper penetrated fungus will surface). With oral treatments there is indeed a risk of liver problems, but with proper monitoring most of those problems can be avoided. Any problems that could potentially occur with the liver are reversible and not permanent.

    As for the rash that is treatable by Dovonex and halobetasol, that sounds more like Psoriasis - an autoimmune rash. It's almost like the body is allergic to itself and breaks out in a flakey rash. Common areas affected include upper and lower extremeties, torso, and scalp. There are a lot of treatments available such as phototherapy, tablets, and now once a week injectables. The treatment idea is minimize the body's reaction to itself.

    I'm not a dermatologist... but I hope that information helps clear up your question/dilemma.
  3. My husband had a case of Athlete's Foot for over 10 years from the gym shower at his college. He was told by doctors that it was not Athlete's Foot on several occasions, they would send him home with cortizone cream or something like that. After we met, I told him that it looked like athlete's foot and to go to a doctor and have it lanced and swabbed and cultured. He went and again the doctor said it is not athlete's foot. He told her to culture it and she did. A day later, he got a phone call, it was a deeply embedded case of Athlete's Foot!!! She perscribed Sporonox and it cleared up in a week and never returned. If the fungus is that deep, only Sporonox will work. Also if they think it is something else, have them culture it to be sure!