Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the foot that can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or object. It is most commonly contracted in public areas like gyms, locker rooms, health clubs and the community pool, especially when going barefoot. Once someone has athlete’s foot, it can be easily transmitted to others if not treated promptly. The fungus thrives in warm damp environments and can live for months at a time on things like socks, shoes and floors.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), approximately 70 percent of people will have athlete’s foot at some point in their lives. Some people are more at risk than others due to a number of factors including:
Age (teens and adults are most susceptible)
Gender (men are more likely than women to develop athlete’s foot)
Moisture (fungi love damp environments)
Personal Hygiene (not keeping feet clean and dry)
Shoes (tight or closed-toed shoes prevent airflow)
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal skin infection. It affects the feet, especially between the toes, although it can spread to other parts of the body. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread through direct contact with the fungus or from contact with surfaces that are contaminated with the fungus (such as floors in locker rooms or public showers). Athlete’s foot is also referred to as tinea pedis.
Athlete’s Foot Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot may include:
Dry, scaly areas on your feet, especially between your toes
Blisters on your feet that itch or burn
Itching, stinging, and burning between your toes and on the soles of your feet
Thick, discolored nails (from a secondary bacterial infection)
Most people are at risk for athlete’s foot. It is most commonly found in adolescents and adults, and it is more common in men than women. Footwear plays a major role in causing the problem. Just about any kind of shoe can cause problems; however, shoes that are tight and do not allow for air circulation around your feet tend to make the problem worse.
Athlete’s foot is more common in warm weather and environments where people walk barefoot. There are many public places where you can catch this infection, such as locker rooms, swimming pools, bathtubs and showers.
People with diabetes have a higher risk of getting athlete’s foot because they often have poor circulation and nerve damage in their feet or legs. This can keep them from feeling the itching and burning that come with athlete’s foot. Also, people with diabetes are more likely to get bacterial infections of the skin, which can make it even harder to get rid of athlete’s foot.
While walking barefoot in public places such as swimming pools, gyms, communal showers, and locker rooms can increase your risk of contracting athlete’s foot, there are additional factors that can put you at risk for this contagious fungal infection.
Children and Teenagers – Young people between the ages of six and sixteen have a higher chance of developing athlete’s foot than older individuals. This is because young people tend to sweat more than adults and are also likely to wear restrictive footwear or engage in activities that cause their feet to overheat.
People with Diabetes – Diabetes can result in poor circulation in the lower extremities, which reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the feet. This makes it difficult for cuts and sores to heal and creates an environment that encourages fungus.
Individuals with Weakened Immune Systems – Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against athlete’s foot, as well as most other diseases. If your immune system is suppressed due to medication or illness, you may be at higher risk for contracting athlete’s foot.
Those with Skin Conditions – People who suffer from psoriasis or eczema tend to be more prone to developing athlete’s foot than those without these conditions.
The following factors can increase your risk of getting athlete’s foot:
– Being male: Men are more likely than women to develop athlete’s foot.
– Age: Athlete’s foot is most common in children and adults.
– Not drying your feet well after showering, bathing, or swimming.
– Walking barefoot in areas where someone with a fungal infection has been.
– Having minor skin or nail injuries.
– Living in warm, humid climates.
– Having a weakened immune system.
Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection, which is caused by the same fungus that causes ringworm. It is also called tinea pedis. The skin on your feet becomes red, itchy, and scaly. Sometimes blisters develop, which can be painful.
Athlete’s foot usually affects the spaces between your toes because that area of your skin stays damp from a combination of sweat and friction from your shoes. The fungus grows best in warm, moist areas, such as the inside of your shoes or your socks.
Athlete’s foot spreads easily in places where people go barefoot, such as showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools. You can also get athlete’s foot from sharing towels or shoes with an infected person.
Your chances of getting athlete’s foot increase if you:
Have had athlete’s foot before
Have diabetes or a weakened immune system
Sweat a lot
Walk barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms or swimming pools
Share shoes or socks with someone who has athlete’s foot
Wear closed-toe shoes that make your feet warm and sweaty
Wear shoes that fit too tightly