What is Athlete’s Foot?

Overview  |  Symptoms  |  Complications  |  Causes  |  Treatment 

Athlete’s foot is an infection that affects the skin on your feet and sometimes your nails. The condition is quite common and can affect anyone, however, people who play sports have more of a chance in getting athlete’s foot; this is because it is infectious and is often found in communal showers and swimming pools. It is caused by a fungus that leaves your feet itchy and flaking.

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot consists of a number of symptoms.

  • It  starts with an itchy rash between the toes, usually the little one.  If left untreated it is likely to spread to the other toes too.
  • Cracked and/or sore skin, typically between the toes but, can be on the sole – may appear soggy.
  • Your skin may become dry and flake off.
  • Possible blisters.

Complications of Acne

It is very unlikely to develop a complication from athlete’s foot, but if left untreated there is an increased risk. There is a possibility that athlete’s feet may spread to the toenails, causing a  fungal nail infection – toenails become discoloured, thick and crumbly, which if left untreated could become painful. Additionally, in some cases, athlete’s foot may lead to a bacterial infection.

What Causes Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is an infectious condition caused by fungal germs (fungi). Fungi, an organism and distant plant relative, survive off other organisms by living on them and feeding of  their tissue. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is called Dermatophyte; it infects the outer layers of skin, scalp, hair and nails.

As athlete’s foot is contagious, it can easily be spread via skin-to-skin contact or through items that have been contaminated. Dermatophytes thrive in environments that are warm and moist, which makes places like swimming pools, changing room and bathrooms common areas for athlete’s foot to spread.

Treating Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot does not generally require a diagnosis as most cases are mild and can be treated at home. However, if you have a severe infection then it is advisable to see your doctor for a stronger prescription. It is essential to treat athlete’s foot as not treating it may lead to a fungal nail infection; there is also a possibility of it spreading to other areas including your hands.

Athlete’s foot can be treated at home with an anti-fungal medication, which is available as a spray, powder, cream, liquid or tablet. Anti-fungal medication does not usually require a prescription and should be used for up to two weeks after the infection has cleared.