Athlete’s Foot: Causes, Types, and Treatment

You can get athletes foot at swimming pools

Athlete’s Foot: Causes, Types, and Treatment

What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection that affects the feet. One of the main symptoms of Athlete’s Foot is itchy white patches between your toes. The skin can also look red and flaky, become cracked or result in blisters. 

The medical term for Athlete’s Foot is ‘tinea pedis’ and it is from the same bacterial family as ringworm. Being highly contagious, it can spread to the toenails in the form of a fungal nail infection and also spread to the hands. You can get Athlete’s Foot from someone who already has it and you, in turn, can spread it to other people. 

Why is it called Athlete’s Foot?

It is called Athlete’s Foot because it is common among athletes and sports people whose feet, socks and footwear tend to be damp and sweaty – the ideal breeding ground for this fungal infection! Athlete’s Foot spreads through skin-to-skin contact through the skin flakes of an infected person as well as through contact with contaminated surfaces. Pay close attention to gyms, saunas, locker rooms and sports centres that have communal changing rooms and showers. People tend to go barefoot in these venues which can increase your chance of getting Athlete’s Foot from someone else. 

What are the different types of Athlete’s Foot?

There are four different types of Athlete’s Foot based on where the infection is located and how it looks. 

Toe web infection: 

This is when the fungus affects the skin in between your toes – usually your fourth and fifth toes – causing red, dry, scaly skin.

Moccasin infection: 

This is when the fungus affects the soles and sides of your feet and and shows up as dry, itchy skin that may thicken and crack. 

Vesicular infection: 

This is when the fungus results in a vesicle (the medical term for a blister). These itchy blisters can appear on the soles of your feet or in between your toes.

 Ulcerative infection: 

This is the most severe (and rarest) form of Athlete’s Foot that results in painful ulcers or open sores between the toes and on the bottom of your feet.

How can you treat and prevent Athlete’s Foot?

You will need to get some anti-fungal medication (available in the form of creams, powders or sprays) from your local pharmacy. 

  • Keep your feet clean and dry, making sure to wipe between your toes. 
  • Wear clean socks every day. 
  • Keep your nails trimmed short.
  • Air out damp shoes immediately and rotate your footwear.
  • Do not scratch affected skin as this can spread an infection to other parts of your body. 
  • Do not go barefoot in places like swimming pools and changing rooms – wear thongs/flip-flops. 
  • Pay attention to your feet, looking for any suspicious cuts, bruises and rashes.

If you have tried an over-the-counter treatment for your Athlete’s Foot, but have not got any relief, visit our podiatrists immediately.