Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection caused by a ringworm. Ringworm is not actually a worm. The condition is called ringworm because it can cause a ring-shaped, red, itchy rash on the skin.
Other ways to help prevent the spread of the fungus that causes athlete’s food include:
- Wear socks, slippers, or shoes around the house because anyone who lives with you can also contract the fungus that causes athlete’s foot if you walk barefoot and they walk in the same place after you
- Wash everything frequently, such as sheets, towels, socks, slippers, bath mats, and other items that may come into contact with the fungus
- Towels and washcloths should be laundered after each use to avoid cross contamination with other items on the towel rack
- Don’t share items such as socks, shoes, towels, bath mats, and other items that have come into contact with your feet to avoid spreading the fungus
What Are Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) affects the skin along with fingernails and toenails. Symptoms of athlete’s foot develop between 4 to 14 days after coming into contact with the fungi that cause ringworm.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
- Ring-shaped rash
- Skin redness
- Scaly, cracked skin
- Red, swollen, peeling, itchy skin between the toes
- Soles, heels, and toenails may also be affected
- Skin on the feet may blister in severe cases
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is usually caused by human dermatophytes, a type of fungus transmitted by direct contact with human ringworm sores. Ringworm may also be picked up from the soil or through exposure to animals (commonly household pets).
Risk factors for developing athlete’s foot include:
- Use of public showers or locker rooms
- Athletes involved in contact sports, such as wrestling
- Sharing bedding, towels, or clothing with a person who is infected
- Close contact with a person who is infected
- Excessive sweating in tight shoes
- Living in a warm, humid climate
- Working with soil that has ringworm fungus
- Close contact with affected animals such as household pets
- People who have a weakened immune system (such as from HIV/AIDS, cancer, chemotherapy, diabetes, or certain medications)
What Is the Treatment for Athlete’s Foot?
Mild cases of athlete's foot (tinea pedis) will go away with treatment within two weeks. More serious infections or infections that affect the toenails may need to be treated for several weeks or more.
Treatment for athlete's foot includes:
- Over-the-counter or prescription antifungal creams, lotions, powders, gels, ointments, foams, and solutions to kill the athlete’s foot fungus
- Azole antifungals
- Butenafine (Mentax)
- Chronic or extensive athlete’s foot may require oral antifungals
- Chronic athlete’s foot may require additional therapy such as foot powder or talcum powder to prevent skin softening
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