Athlete’s Foot: Everything You Must Know

A brief introduction and exploration on why people get athletes foot. Also symptoms, who is most at risk and interesting facts.

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a superficial fungal infection of the feet. Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal infection, it has affected up to 70 percent of the population at some time in there lives.


The body normally hosts a variety of saprotrophic micro-organisms, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body. Pathogenic or disease causing organisms or the overgrowth of saprotrophic ones can multiply rapidly and cause infection.


This fungus is contagious and so it generally is contracted through direct or indirect contact in public places particularly on moist floors (like bathrooms, locker rooms, Swimming pool, and Showers). Once transmitted, the fungus grows in warm and moist environments, including footwear. Athlete’s foot may last a very short time or may be long-term and recurring.


  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Scaling
  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Oozing
  • Open sores
  • Cracked or blistered skin
  • Discoloration, thickening, crumbling of the toe nails as the fungus progresses.
  • After a while, the rash becomes scaly
  • If the condition is not treated, a similar rash may appear on other parts of the body.

Most at Risk

  • Athletes
  • Young people, especially if they wear Trainers or Runners
  • People who are forced to wear tight-fitting rubber footwear


Since the fungus thrives in a moist warm environment keeping the feet dry and cool can cure the infection. It is recommended to wear open sandals, or even better barefoot as much as possible. However avoid walking barefoot in warm moist environments since you may infect other people, and allowing your feet to stay wet can help the fungus grow.

Keep the feet clean as possible but make sure they are fully dry after washing them and stay barefoot afterwards. Change socks daily, and try to alternate shoes on different days, to allow the shoes to fully dry out. Avoid passing the infection on you should not share the towels, shoes or socks with anyone else.

Athlete’s foot can also be treated locally with antifungal creams, sprays, liquids and powders that are available from pharmacists without a prescription. Imidazole antifungals are most effective and include clotrimazole and miconazole. Other antifungals include zinc undecenoate, terbinafine and tolnaftate. If the athlete’s foot has not started to respond after two weeks’ antifungal treatment you should see your doctor, who may prescribe a stronger antifungal cream or antifungal tablets.

There are many other ways and home remedies believed to get rid of Athlete’s Foot.


Follow these prevention measures to reduce the chances of contracting or spreading the infection.

  • Keep feet dry.
  • Dry carefully between all the toes after bathing.
  • Use an absorbent foot powder or an antifungal powder.
  • Wear breathable shoes or sandals when weather permits.
  • Try to avoid wearing boots, plastic shoes, trainers and runners if one’s feet sweat easily.
  • Wear absorbent, cotton socks.
  • Change socks at least once a day, or more if they get wet.
  • Do not share towels, socks or footwear.
  • Clean the shower floor regularly.

Other Interesting Information

  • Not every scaly, red, or oozing foot problem is due to fungal infection. Bacterial infections, dermatitis, psoriasis, and other skin conditions can mimic a fungal infection of the foot. Persistent infections should be examined by a clinician.
  • Athlete’s foot is one of the most common of all foot ailments.
  • Placebo controlled studies report that good foot hygiene alone can cure athlete’s foot even without medication in 30-40% of the cases.


Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

“Fungus. “Britannica Student Library. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica 2006 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD 26 Mar.  2007 .

Spencer, R and Mira, T (1997). Human Health Issues. Blue Talk Books.

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