Athlete's Foot

What is athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot is a very common skin condition that affects the sole of the foot and the skin between the toes. It is usually a scaly, red, itchy eruption and occasionally may be weepy and oozing. It affects the feet of athletes and nonathletes alike. Although it is frequently caused by a fungal infection, other causes may be indistinguishable without proper testing.

The medical name for athlete's foot caused by a fungus is tinea pedis. There are a variety of fungi that cause athlete's foot, and these can be contracted in many locations, including gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools, nail salons, and from contaminated socks and clothing. The fungi can also be spread directly from person to person by contact. Most people acquire fungus on the feet from walking barefoot in areas where someone else with athlete's foot has walked. Some people are simply more prone to this condition while others seem relatively resistant to it. Another colorful name for this condition is "jungle rot," often used by members of the armed services serving in tropical climates.

Without the proper environment (warmth and moisture), the fungus may not easily infect the skin. Up to 70% of the population may develop athlete's foot at some time. An infection by athlete's foot fungi does not confer any resistance to subsequent infections.

What are the symptoms and signs of athlete's foot?

Many individuals with athlete's foot have no symptoms at all and do not even know they have an infection. Many may think they simply have dry skin on the soles of their feet. Common symptoms of athlete's foot typically include various degrees of itching and burning. The skin may frequently peel, and in particularly severe cases, there may be some cracking, pain, and bleeding as well. Rarely, athlete's foot can blister. Continue Reading

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Reviewed on 2/4/2015