June asks

I have a query for Dr Jez……..

For a couple of years now I occasionally get ( one at a time ) small, red, itchy ( especially in the bath or shower ) spots, which, within a couple of days of appearing, get a watery/blistery type head. These occur on my feet only, not on the sole or tops, but usually in the instep area, or the outer foot under the ankle.

They happen approximately 4-5 weekly, and each new one will appear just millimetres from the scar tissue of the previous one.

For a couple of years now I occasionally get ( one at a time ) small, red, itchy ( especially in the bath or shower ) spots, which, within a couple of days of appearing, get a watery/blistery type head. These occur on my feet only, not on the sole or tops, but usually in the instep area, or the outer foot under the ankle. They happen approximately 4-5 weekly, and each new one will appear just millimetres from the scar tissue of the previous one.

I asked my GP about 18 months ago and he said they were “related to athlete’s foot” – the traditional type of which I have never suffered from. The topical ointment he gave me didn’t appear to work. I have since tried GLOCREME from the pharmacist which does quickly clear a spot, but still another appears some weeks later.

I’d like to know what this condition is called, and how to treat it, permanently.

Thanks a lot

June

Dr Jez replies

Dear June

Skin complaints are very difficult to diagnose, unless the rash or lesion forms a certain well-recognised pattern. The skin has a limited visual response to irritation i. e. it goes red, forms a blister, etc and therefore most doctors would take the approach of waiting to see what happens.

Most rashes will disappear eventually with no treatment and certainly the majority are no threat to your health.

From your description, certainly a fungal cause such as tinea pedis (athlete№s foot) is a possibility. It is easily spread by skin contact such that other members of the household using the shower will re-infect others and this may account for its reccurrence.

Also those running shoes need a wash in hot water every so often. Apart from being irritating it does not pose a threat to wellness.

The diagnosis can be confirmed with a skin scraping looking under the microscope for fungal cells. The best bet is to try the chemist for simple remedies or ask friends if they know any natural products. Another possibility is mild eczema (very common), try decreasing or changing the washing powder and perfumed soap and see what happens.

Good luck

Dr Jez

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