Athlete's Foot is a common fungal infection of the skin. Many people, especially those who play sports...hence the name, will experience athlete's foot sometime in their life. It is most common among athletes because the fungus likes to hang out in dark, moist, wet environments, much like a locker room. 

Signs of Athlete's Foot

  • itching
  • burning
  • flaking
  • scaling
  • swollen

How Did You Get Athletes Foot

Athlete's foot is transmitted from person to person through fungi spores. These spores like dark, warm, moist environments (which is why they like your feet so much). Places like the locker room, public pools, showers etc are where you most likely picked up the problem. It is also spread 

How Do We Treat Athletes Foot

There are topical treatments (cream/gel) that are used to painlessly rid the feet of athletes foot. Usually it takes around 4-6 weeks to be rid of the fungus, but it can depend on your case.

Treatment of Athlete's Foot

At home, dust anti-fungal powders in your socks and shoes every day. Apply an over the counter cream two to three times daily. Wash canvas shoes frequently and change socks at least every day. People with diabetes or circulatory problems should take especially good care of their feet. If it persists over two weeks, consult your podiatric physician.

First of all, they will examine you to determine if you have a fungus and not some other skin condition. After diagnosing the type of fungus, more effective topical preparations or possibly oral medications may be prescribed. If a secondary bacterial infection is present, culture and sensitivity tests may be necessary and antibiotics may be utilized. Although fungus infections have sometimes been very difficult to manage, new medications have been developed that are quite successful. Treatment should continue for a period of time after the symptoms have cleared to make sure it is gone.

Preventing Athletes Foot

The symptoms of athlete’s foot can be annoying, but the good news is that the fungus is easy to treat and even easier to prevent. Simply make a point of wearing well-fitting shoes, keep your feet out in the open as often as possible and always wear your own sandals when visiting a locker room.

Never walk anywhere barefoot, especially places like the gym, locker room, public pools. If someone in your house has athletes foot, be sure to sanitize areas like the shower. Also, change your socks frequently so you can keep your feet dry and allow your shoes a day in between to air dry by rotating shoes.

The best offense is a good defense! Use powder in shoes and socks. Do not wear synthetic or nylon socks that trap perspiration. Wear cotton to absorb moisture . Dry feet thoroughly, particularly between toes (consider a hair drier on low heat). Change socks and wash shoes periodically. Use your topical medicine and if it doesn't improve, check with your foot and ankle specialist right away.

If untreated, skin blisters and cracks caused by Athlete's foot can cause serious bacterial infections. The treatment of Athlete's foot depends on the type and extent of the fungal infection, so it is important to consult with me before choosing a therapy.

Athlete's foot can usually be treated with antifungal creams. Re-infection is common, so it is important to continue the therapy as prescribed, even if the fungus apparently goes away. Severe cases of Athlete's foot may require foot soaks before applying anti-fungal creams. Severe infections that appear suddenly (acute) usually respond well to treatment. Toenail infections that can develop with athlete's foot tend to be more difficult to cure than fungal skin infections.


athletes foot

The main culprit behind athlete’s foot is a group of tiny fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi are responsible for a whole host of other infections, including jock itch and multiple types of ringworm. When they come into contact with human skin, dermatophytes feed off nutrients found in keratinized material. With the fungi responsible for athlete’s foot, these nutrients are typically found in the toenails. Dermatophytes thrive in moist environments, which is why they commonly build up between the toes. Humid environments can contribute to the development of athlete’s foot, as can tight shoes that squeeze the toes together.

Athlete’s Foot is Contagious

Coming into contact with someone else who has athlete’s foot or objects infected with the fungus can spread the fungus. Objects commonly responsible for spreading athlete’s foot include shoes, towels, mats and floors. The most common symptom of athlete’s foot is itchiness. The itchiness may be concentrated to one specific location or it may surround the entire foot. A stinging or burning sensation may also accompany itchiness of the foot. In many cases, the skin in between the toes and on the soles of the feet will begin to crack or peel. 

Brad Schaeffer, D.P.M.
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Dr. Brad Schaeffer is an expert in foot and ankle pain, treatment and surgery. Learn more about our doctor.