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What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a very common condition that can affect anyone – not just gym-goers! Also known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a skin infection that causes dry, cracked, itchy skin. While it can technically show up anywhere on the body, when the feet or toes are primarily affected the name most commonly used for the infection is “athlete’s foot.”
Athlete’s Foot FAQs
Read our dermatologists’ answers to frequently asked questions about athlete’s foot below, and contact us if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a specific class of fungal organisms called dermatophytes, which thrive in warm, moist environments. This is why the foot is one of the more common locations for this infection, as sweaty socks and moist shoes encourage the growth of athlete’s foot.
The most common symptoms of athlete’s foot are dry, cracked, itchy skin on the feet and soles, and between the toes. Additional athlete’s foot symptoms include:
- Itching, stinging, and burning between the toes or on soles of the feet.
- Cracking and peeling skin on the feet (toes and soles are more common).
- Dry or raw-looking skin on the feet.
- Discolored, thick, and crumbly toenails that may pull away from the nail bed.
- Itchy blisters on the feet.
- Constant, discolored flaking of the skin.
- Discoloration and thickening of the nails.
Furthermore, athlete’s foot may be completely asymptomatic. However, if you’re experiencing any of the listed symptoms above or have noticed skin or nail changes on your feet, please visit a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation and discussion of treatment options.
Athlete’s foot is contagious. It spreads from person to person through direct contact or contact with the same surface, such as the floor at a public pool floor or in a shared locker room. Furthermore, athlete’s foot can also spread to other parts of the body, which is why immediate treatment is recommended if you believe you may have this common infection.
Athlete’s foot most often shows up on the feet, as the moist environment of this area of the body encourages the growth of dermatophytes (the fungi that causes the infection). More specifically, athlete’s foot usually affects the area between the toes and the soles of feet.
Yes, you can get athlete’s foot on your hands if you scratch or itch the infection on your feet, as it spreads to other parts of the body through direct contact. Having athlete’s foot on the hands is less common than the feet, in part because the hands are often drier than the feet and are washed frequently throughout the day.
In most cases, athlete’s foot can be easily avoided when taking preventative steps and precautionary measures. This includes:
- Avoid walking barefoot. Wear shoes in the locker room, showers, or pool area.
- Let the feet breathe by wearing flip-flops or sandals.
- Wash feet daily and thoroughly dry, especially between the toes, after bathing.
- Limit time spent in tight/constricting footwear, especially in the summer.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks that absorb sweat and moisture.
- Change socks more frequently if they become damp.
- Dust an antifungal or absorbent powder on feet and into shoes.
- Do not share footwear with other people.
For more information on how to prevent athlete’s foot, especially at the gym, read our helpful blog here.
There are four main types of antifungal treatments for athlete’s foot. This includes creams, powders, sprays, and oral medication. All antifungal treatments work similarly in that they kill the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.
Initially, a dermatologist may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal treatments, which are easily found at your local drugstore. However, if the infection isn’t effectively treated with OTC antifungal medication, a prescription-strength antifungal treatment may be required to clear up your athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s Foot Photos
Not sure what athlete’s foot may look like? Use the pictures of athlete’s foot below to get more familiar with how this common skin infection may show up on your body.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Athlete’s Foot in Wilmington, NC
Do you suspect you may have athlete’s foot and need an effective treatment?
At The Dermatology & Skin Surgery Center of Wilmington, our board-certified dermatologists are highly experienced in providing effective athlete’s foot treatments. Schedule an appointment today by contacting our Wilmington, North Carolina office at (910) 782-0028 or request an appointment online.