Athlete’s Foot


Overview

Athlete’s foot is a very commonly experienced fungal infection and is said to affect everyone at some point of time in their lives. Athlete’s foot was most commonly observed in athletes and hence, the fungal infection is named so. Contradicting the name, athlete’s feet is contagious and can hence spread to other parts of the body. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, 15-25% of people are likely to have athlete’s foot at any one time. Anyone can be affected by an athlete’s foot but the most affected are teenagers and men.

 

Definition of athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection that is first seen in the skin between the toes and then spreads to other areas of the foot.

The infection appears as a scaly inflammation (redness). Some rare and severe cases of athlete’s foot also cause blisters.

Athlete’s foot is a form of ringworm, which is a severely contagious fungal infection of the skin or scalp. Medically, athlete’s foot is referred to as tinea pedis.

 

What causes athlete’s foot?

The genetic cause of athlete’s foot is a growth of the fungi, dermatophytes. Despite the genetic link, athlete’s foot is not a genetic infection. Many activities that trigger the cause of athlete’s foot are developed by humans.

  • Confinement of the feet – The fungi dwell and multiply in warm and wet places. So when wearing close-cut shoes, the feet receive very less circulation, causing athlete’s foot.
  • Contact – Athlete’s foot is contagious and hence spreads to unaffected areas when they indirectly or directly come into contact with affected areas. For example, when someone with athlete’s foot walks barefoot, and someone without the infection walks along these paths. This typically happens in locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools. Athlete’s foot can also spread through touch. When the infection spreads to the groin it is termed as jock itch.
  • Those with a weak immune system– Because the system fails to fight off the fungi causing athlete’s foot.

 

Symptoms of athlete’s foot

Many symptoms of athlete’s foot are left undiagnosed. But if not treated, athlete’s foot spreads and worsens over time. Some symptoms are noticeable and require immediate attention.

  • Skin between the toes or on the foot becomes red, itchy, scaly, flaky or too dry. Severe cases show blisters as well.
  • Burning or stinging of different areas on the feet.
  • Crumbling and falling off of toenails.

 

Types of athlete’s foot

Treatment for athlete’s foot depends on the type of athlete’s foot one is diagnosed with. Each type of athlete’s foot affects different areas of the feet and hence different symptoms are noticed. There are three types of athlete’s foot.

  • Toe web infection – The most commonly diagnosed type of athlete’s foot where the infection appears between the 4th and the 5th toes. The infection makes the skin scaly and cracked.
  • Moccasin-type infection – The heel and sole of the feet become too dry and then cracks appear. Gradually, the toenails start to crumble and fall. People suffering from eczema are diagnosed with this type of athlete’s foot.
  • Vesicular type – Blisters appear on the sole and top of the foot. This is the least common type of athlete’s foot.

 

Long-term effects of athlete’s foot

If treated immediately and effectively, athlete’s foot goes away in a few weeks. Athlete’s foot can only be temporarily cured and hence, regular use of medication is required to keep the fungal infection at bay. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the infection can persist, worsen and spread for as long as several years leading to long-term infections.

 

Vulnerable groups

Athlete’s foot can affect anyone but there are certain factors and habits that increase the risk of being diagnosed with athlete’s foot.

  • Athletes
  • People prone to severe sweating
  • Those who wear trainers, tight-fitted rubber shoes or shoes with a plastic inner lining.

 

Genetics of athlete’s foot

Studies conducted by various groups like Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases, New England Journal of Medicine, The Rockefeller University and Necker Medical School, prove the existence of a strong link between genetic mutation and the likelihood of being affected by athlete’s foot. The genes Dectin-1 and CARD9 fight off the microorganisms that cause the fungal infection. Deficiency of these genes leads to the growth of the fungi, dermatophytes, which causes athlete’s foot.

 

Diagnosis

The appearance of the foot is the most obvious indicator of athlete’s foot.

To determine the cause, a microscopy and culture test is done, which entails removal of a scrape of skin.

The potassium hydroxide test (KOH test) gives a conclusive diagnosis of athlete’s foot.

KOH test – A scrape of the skin is placed in potassium hydroxide. The healthy cells are destroyed and the infected cells are left behind to be examined. A positive result means the person is diagnosed with athlete’s foot.

 

Treatment & Prevention

Athlete’s foot is most readily treated with topical anti-fungal creams. These contain clotrimazole, ketoconazole, and miconazole that have strong anti-fungal action. It is also important to maintain basic feet hygiene in order to treat this condition and prevent it from recurring. These include the following points:

  • Keep your feet clean, dry, and sweat-free. If you are prone to sweating or the climate is humid, keep an antiperspirant spray handy.
  • Avoid stepping in puddles or walking barefoot in areas where moisture is present. Be extremely careful around stagnant water bodies.
  • Always dust your shoes and socks before wearing them.

Facts

  • Jock itch and athlete’s foot are both caused by the same fungus, tinea cruris. It must also be noted that these are not limited just to “jocks” and “athletes”.
  • Men get this fungal infection more than women do.

Facts

  • One of the most common reasons for the spreading of this infection is sharing towels, showers, or gym lockers with an infected individual.
  • At any given time, this infection might be prevalent among 15-25% of the general population.

Facts

  • The most vulnerable groups could include regular swimming pool users and industrial workers. Males of the age of 16 years or above show the highest prevalence (20%).

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Keep your feet clean and dry all the time.
  • Wear socks made of natural cotton fabrics only. Refrain from wearing nylon and synthetic fiber socks.
  • Take the complete course of medication even if the symptoms disappear completely.
Don'ts
  • Walk barefoot in public spaces such as swimming pool and restrooms.
  • Scratch, itch, or poke the affected area with nails or any sharp object.
  • Share personal care items such as towels, shoes, clothes etc with an infected person.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal sex: Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
Glutathione: Probably the strongest antioxidant known to mankind An antioxidant with ample potential to transform your body, glutathione is one of the most critical substances secreted…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Panera bread steak arugula
Panera Bread: The truth behind this “healthy” restaurant chain What to order and what to avoid when dining at Panera Bread ? Know more about this popular…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Paleo diet man
Paleo Diet: Is eating like the Caveman the right way to go? Paleo diet is the world's oldest diet; dating back to 2.5 million years ago. Why is this prehistoric…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigous superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
stevia side effects
Stevia: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another risky additive? Stevia is a plant native to South America.  It has been used as a natural sugar substitute and…
Pomegranate: Why are they called ruby red pearls of health? The shrub Punicagranatum yields a red fruit which is what you normally call pomegranate. The fruit is round…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
BCAAs powder
BCAA: Now get more out of your workouts with this miracle protein BCAAs are counted as one of the best supplements for increasing your physical endurance. Find out what are…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
turmeric skin
We bet you didn’t know that turmeric could be this beneficial! Did you know that turmeric, a humble ingredient found in most Indian kitchens could cure countless ailments and…
Serotonin happiness
Serotonin : What you didn’t know about this “feel-good” chemical Serotonin : Did you know that this "feel-good" hormone could well impact your sleep cycle, sex drive, appetite,…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
low carb diet meal
Low carb diet : Go high on fats and low on carbs for a leaner body! Did you know that sugar is the new fat? Going low on carbs and high on fats &…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
ADHD forgetful
ADD versus ADHD: What are the fundamental differences? Is every hyperactive child a patient of ADHD? Do adults display symptoms of ADHD as well? What is…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
kale
Kale: With more iron than beef, this superfood is the ultimate way to lose weight Checkmate meat-eaters; with kale, vegans now have the ultimate iron-rich superfood as their ally that can protect from…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
How to make the apple cider vinegar diet work for you? Apple cider vinegar diet is a popular choice among health enthusiasts.Find out why nutritionists believe this could be…
How much protein
Proteins: What is the right protein-intake for your specific needs? As we all know protein is an essential macronutrient indispensible to good health and body. But how much…
Horny Goat Weed: Can it improve libido in human beings too? This plant got its name as Horny Goat Weed when one of the goats feeding on the plant…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
Healthy pregnancy tips
How to have a healthy pregnancy: Essential tips to remember What to expect when growing a life within you? How important are prenatal vitamins anyway? Don't make these…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…