Athlete's Foot

Information on the causes of athlete's foot and athlete's foot symptoms.

Select a Topic

  1. What is Athlete’s Foot?
  2. What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
  3. Diagnosing Athlete’s Foot
  4. Help for Athlete’s Foot
  5. More Information on Athlete’s Foot

What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection of the skin of your feet, usually occurring between the toes.

It breeds in the outer layers of the skin and inhabits the feet because footwear creates a warm, moist ‘home’ that promotes fungal growth. The term ‘athlete’s foot’ was derived because this fungal infection was hugely popular amongst athletes who made use of public facilities.

What Causes Athlete’s Foot?

The fungus responsible for this condition is known as tinea pedis and it may be contracted from public environments such as showers, locker rooms, around swimming pools or spas and may also live in warm puddles of water on the tile floor.

Diagnosing Athlete’s Foot

This condition causes a great deal of discomfort and the skin may often be red, swollen and contain a sticky fluid. Itching is an extremely common symptom, particularly in the creases between the toes. A scaly, dry rash on the bottom and sides of the feet may also be experienced and this type of athlete’s foot is often referred to as a moccasin. Cracks, blisters or "fissures" can occur between the toes, sometimes accompanied by a soft white scale.

When the blisters crack, raw areas of tissue are exposed that cause swelling and pain. If left untreated, athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of the foot such as the soles and toenails. It can also spread to the hands, face, groin and underarms – this occurs when the infection is scratched and you then touch other areas of your body.

The toenails may also become thick and yellowish in appearance if the fungal infection worsens and may result in toenail fungus. The infection may also be spread by contaminated bed linen or clothing. Athlete’s foot can often persist for long periods. Other conditions such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema, and psoriasis may mimic athlete's foot.

Help for Athlete’s Foot

There are a wide variety of over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments available for mild cases of athlete’s foot. For more severe cases, topical or oral anti-fungal drugs are prescribed to alleviate symptoms. If the fungal infection persists and there is no improvement from medication, it would be advisable to consult a podiatrist. Athlete’s foot is quite common and usually one does not have to be alarmed about this condition. However, sometimes fungal infections are an early warning sign of a more severe medical condition that may be associated with a weakened immune system – such as diabetes or HIV.


More Information on Athlete’s Foot

There are some helpful ways to prevent athlete’s foot and they include:
  • Practice good foot hygiene by washing your feet daily with soap and water
  • Dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes
  • Change socks, hosiery and shoes daily to minimize moisture
  • Wear sandals in public locker rooms and showers
  • Wear light, airy shoes
  • Wear cotton socks
  • Use foot powder to reduce perspiration
  • Reduce sugar intake
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