Athletes Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the upper skin layers of the feet and toes. Learn here the causes, symptoms, and treatment for athlete’s foot.
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Athletes Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the upper layers of the skin, most commonly of the feet and toes. The fungus loves warm, moist, and irritated skin, so it is no surprise that it happens most often on the feet and toes. If you are wondering, “What does athlete’s foot look like?”, it is very similar to ringworm. It is moist with raised bumps and redness in the affected area.

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot resides on floors and in clothing, so it can be hard to eradicate. Athlete’s foot is contagious but can be easily treated. Let’s have a look at some of the common causes and symptoms of athlete’s foot and some simple treatment options. 

Causes of Athlete's Foot

Trichophyton, the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, exists harmlessly on human skin. It becomes a problem, however, when it is allowed to reproduce rapidly. The reproduction of trichophyton requires moisture, warmth, and creases or flakes of skin. This is why excessive sweating and irritated skin on the feet can cause the fungus to reproduce too quickly, thus causing the athlete's foot.

Dirty Socks

More specifically, damp socks or sweaty socks that are worn for long periods, especially under tightfitting shoes, are a problem.  The damp, dirty environment is perfect for fungal growth.  Dirty, sweaty socks should be removed as soon as possible for the most effective prevention. If your feet get very sweaty, you should consider changing your socks twice a day.

Thick and Tight Shoes

To prevent athlete’s foot, you should wear light, well-ventilated shoes, avoiding shoes made of synthetic material, such as vinyl or rubber.  Alternating pairs of shoes daily is also a good idea, giving each pair plenty of time to dry after each use.  Any shoes you wear should fit your feet well, with room to breathe, which necessitates avoiding excessively tight fits.

Poor Hygiene 

Once again, it’s the sweaty, moist, warm environment that propagates the growth of this particular fungus, so keeping your feet as clean and dry as possible helps to decrease the risk of developing Athlete’s Foot.  The same fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot can also be transmitted to other areas, which makes general good hygiene important. This same fungus is the one present in jock itch and can be in some nail funguses. Clean skin, clothes, socks, and towels reduce your chances of moving the fungus to other areas of the body.

Exposure to Contagious Surfaces and Situations

Naturally, pools, locker rooms, and showers are suspect locations this fungus may hide and live.  These areas fit the criteria.  They are warm, moist, and not always clean.  The key is to always protect your feet in these public places by wearing waterproof sandals or water shoes.

In conclusion

Athlete’s foot is very common and highly contagious.  The good news is that it is also highly treatable, mostly at home.  Very rarely will athlete’s foot require medical attention.  

Common sense is your best friend in the prevention of Athlete’s Foot. Keep your feet as dry as possible, letting them air out when you’re at home. Change socks regularly. Always use a clean towel.

If you have athlete’s foot, treat it inhibit spreading it.  If over-the-counter treatment at home doesn’t improve your symptoms within two weeks, you should see your doctor.  If you have diabetes, see your doctor if you suspect you have athlete’s foot, especially if you notice any excessive redness, swelling, drainage, or fever, which could be signs of a possible secondary bacterial infection.

At Diablo Foot & Ankle our medical specialists can help with Athlete’s foot. We also treat other foot fungal issues, injuries, and more! Call today to schedule your appointment. We are here to help.