Athlete’s foot: Causes, treatment and prevention

Athlete's foot treatment

Athlete’s foot also known as tinea pedis. It is a common fungal skin infection mainly affecting the feet that often results in scaling and itching. More often, this occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tight-fitting shoes. Although the name suggests otherwise, you don’t have to be an athlete to develop athletes foot; the fungus can infect anyone.

athletes foot symptoms

Athletes foot is contagious and can be spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing. Also, it can spread to the palm, groin and other parts of the body if not taken care of. OTC antifungal medications can be use for treatment, but the infection often recurs.

What causes athletes foot?

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection; the same one that causes ringworm. Athlete’s foot can be easily contracted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.

It can also be indirect through contact with an object or surface that an infected person has touched. Places such as bathroom floors, bathmats, towels, showers and communal bathing, swimming and changing room areas are common sources of infection.

What are the risk factors of athletes foot?

There are a number of risk factors for athletes foot including:

  • Wearing closed shoes that don’t allow the feet to breathe
  • Sweating heavily from the feet
  • Not drying feet and toes properly after showering
  • Not changing socks frequently
  • Living in a warm or urban environment suh as public rest room
  • Letting bare feet touch the floor such as in shared showers and changing areas
  • Having a weakened immune system either due to certain medicines or diseases

What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?

athletes foot diagnosis

Symptoms of Athletes foot may include the following:

  • Itchy white patches between your toes
  • Red, sore and flaky patches on your feet
  • Skin that may crack and bleed
  • Burning or stinging
  • An unpleasant smell
  • A rash that may form blisters or pustules
  • Pain in the affected areas


  • Diagnosis is mostly by its typical appearance and history.
  • When uncertain, a small scraping of skin can be taken from the affected area and a laboratory test for analysis.

Treatment of athletes foot

Anti-fungal treatments help to relieve symptoms and clear the infection. Treatments such as anti-fungal creams, gels, ointments, sprays or powders. However, these medicines are available over the counter from pharmacies. It can also be by prescription and are apply to the feet and in between the toes.

Prevention of athlete’s foot

There are certain behavioral changes you can make which will prevent you from getting athletes foot. These are:

  • Alternate pairs of shoes. Don’t wear the same pair every day so that you give your shoes time to dry after each use.
  • Do not go the washroom and other public places with barefoot.
  • Wearing open-toed shoes such as sandals or going barefoot as often as possible
  • Use an antifungal cream, lotion, gel or spray from the pharmacy or as prescribed by your doctor. Some antifungal products stop fungi growing and another type kills the fungus; others are combined with a corticosteroid drug to reduce itching.
  • Keep your skin as clean and dry and possible. Shower or bathe daily, dry thoroughly between your toes and skin folds, and use a hair dryer if necessary.
  • Wear socks and loose clothing made from fibres that draw moisture away from the skin, such as wool, cotton or the newer synthetic fibres.
  • Wash the shower and bath using a bleach-based product every couple of days.
  • Wash socks, towels and bathmats in very hot water and dry them well.
  • Regularly wash floors (with very hot water and soap) where you walk in bare feet.
  • Do not share towels, clothing or shoes.

About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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