Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that
causes red, dry, flaking skin, sometimes accompanied by pain or itching.
The condition usually occurs between the toes or on the soles or sides of
the feet. In its acute stage, the infected foot exhibits blisters that
itch or “weep.” Athlete’s Foot can spread to the toenails, causing chronic
fungal infections. Often when a patient thinks the feet are only dry and
cracking, Athlete’s Foot is responsible for the problem.
Fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot are
often contracted in showers, gyms, dressing rooms, swimming pool lockers,
or other warm, damp areas where fungus can thrive. The name of the
condition comes from the fact that athletes spend the most time in these
environments and therefore are at a higher risk of fungal infection.
Once fungal spores are present on the feet, they can enter fissures or
sores and remain there to spread, unless the feet are carefully washed and
thoroughly dried after exposure.
Athlete’s Foot can spread from the toes to the toenails. If the patient
touches or scratches the infection and then touches other parts of the
body, the fungus can spread to fingernails or other parts of the body,
including the groin or underarms.
Like any foot condition, Athlete’s Foot is of special concern to people
with diabetes and compromised immune systems who are more susceptible to
developing infections that can lead to serious medical problems.
Treatment and Prevention
Vigilant foot hygiene can prevent Athlete’s
Foot. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water followed by thorough
drying, especially between the toes, is important. Wearing dry, airy shoes
and socks, not borrowing footwear from others, avoiding tight hosiery and
using foot powder all help to keep the feet dry and infection-free. When
using public showers or pool areas it is a good idea to wear protective
Once an infection has occurred, it is important to see a doctor, have the
problem diagnosed correctly, and treat it promptly. Fungal infections can
be stubborn and difficult to treat, and can become chronic. Treatment
plans include prescription antifungal medications, either topical or oral,
and continued attention to keeping the feet clean and dry.
Continue to consult with your foot doctor until the problem is
Health Information on