Athlete’s foot, medically known as tinea pedis, is a fungal skin infection that usually begins between the toes. It is more common in individuals who wear tight-fitting shoes and have excessively sweaty feet. The infection is contagious and can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces, linens, or clothing.
The common symptoms of athlete’s foot are a scaly and itchy rash. This condition is closely linked to other fungal infections such as ringworm and jock itch. Although antifungal medications are effective in treating the infection, it often recurs.
Athlete’s foot can affect one or both feet, and its symptoms include:
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Awful smell from the foot
- In between the toes, you may notice that the skin is flaky, peeling, or cracked.
- When you remove your shoes and socks, you may immediately feel itchiness.
- On the bottom of the foot, there is dry, scaly skin that goes up to the side.
- The skin appears to have inflammation with a red, purple or gray pigmentation
If you have a rash on your foot and using an over-the-counter antifungal product for self-care does not improve the condition within two weeks, it is advisable to consult a doctor. It is also recommended to make an appointment with your doctor if you have diabetes and suspect that you might have athlete’s foot.
Additionally, seek medical attention if you experience other infection-related symptoms such as fever, swelling, or the presence of pus in the affected area.
The fungal infection known as athlete’s foot is caused by dermatophytes, the same type of fungi that lead to ringworm and jock itch. These organisms thrive in warm, humid environments and moist socks and shoes provide the perfect breeding ground for them.
Athlete’s foot is highly contagious and can spread through contact with an infected individual or by touching contaminated surfaces, including floors, towels, and shoes. Additionally, if you scratch or pick the affected areas on your foot, you can transmit the infection to other parts of your body.
You are at a higher risk of developing athlete’s foot if:
- Profuse sweating
- Wearing enclosed shoes at all times
- Having an autoimmune disease or compromised immune system
- Walking without footwear in spaces where the infection might proliferate, such as showers, saunas, swimming pools, and public baths.
- Utilizing someone who has a fungal infection’s carpets, rugs, bed sheets, clothes, or shoes.