Fungus Wannabe

Tinea pedis, or Athletes foot is a very common condition. It is caused by a variety of fungal species and can be easily treated. There are multiple forms of Athletes foot in regards to clinical presentation on the foot: moccasin type, interdigital type, OR vesicular type. There is a great masquerader however that would like you to think Fungus, when in fact it is a Bacteria. This Fungi imposter is Corynebacterium minutissimum. I promise I have not made this word up, like Disney did supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, although the latter is more fun to say.

This Gram (+) bacteria displays a very convincing performance as the interdigital type of Tinea pedis. It causes inflammation, itching, maceration (soggy), and redness in between the toes which is typically seen in interdigital Tinea.

How do you expose the imposter and start the correct treatment then? A very good question with a very interesting method. The diagnostic tool of choice is not some fancy gadget that only the medical field uses. Its not a cumbersome, invasive, or expensive method. It does not require you to wait or schedule an appointment at another facility. You only need to Turn out the lights and glow in the words of Vanilla Ice. The device I allude to is a Woods lamp, better known as a Black Light. Funny enough, a black light will cause the bacterial ninja to fluoresce a coral red color. So, if your toe web spaces turn coral red under a black light, you have a condition called Erythrasma NOT Tinea pedis.

Erythrasma, once correctly diagnosed is easily treated. Oral or topical Erythromycin can be effectively used to treat this condition.

If you suffer from any form of foot/ankle conditions, please contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit

Category: Skin Problems

Tags: Athlete's Foot, Bacterial Infections, Foot Fungus, Houston