Athlete’s Foot

Overview

Athlete’s Foot – known as tinea pedis in the medical field – is a common fungal infection. Caused by a class of fungi called dermatophytes, this fungus lives in and on damp areas and surfaces. It most often affects the warm, damp areas between the toes, but can also spread to the soles of the feet and other areas of the body. Tinea skin infections are uncomfortable and can cause itching burning and blistering. Fortunately, this infection can often be prevented, and over-the-counter or prescription medications are available to treat even complex cases.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Athlete’s foot most often presents as an itchy rash between the toes, but can also affect toenails or the soles of feet. Common symptoms include a foot rash with itching, burning, peeling, flaking, cracking or blistering skin. Toenails may also become flaky, thick and discolored as a result of athlete’s foot. Each case is different, and athlete’s foot symptoms can vary from mild itching between toes to painfully cracked, flaking skin. Those suffering from a foot rash that is uncomfortable, that has not resolved itself after several weeks or that keeps recurring should see a doctor for diagnosis.

Athlete’s foot can be diagnosed during a physical examination in which the affected area is visually inspected. Because tinea pedis can have symptoms similar to dermatitis or psoriasis, a doctor may also take skin scrapings to look for microscopic evidence of fungi. A positive test result under the microscope or via a culture can indicate the presence of athlete’s foot.

Causes

Athlete’s foot is caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes. These fungi – normally found in the environment and on the skin – do not usually pose a problem, but begin to multiply and grow in warm, damp environments. Sweaty shoes, damp towels, public shower stalls and locker rooms are excellent environments for dermatophytes. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment information . . .

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