Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a skin infection caused by fungus that can affect people of all ages, and not just athletes. It usually affects the bottom or sides of the feet and is also often found between the toes. If left untreated, it can spread to the toenails or other parts of the body.
Fungal infections commonly affect the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and damp environment that encourages fungus growth. Swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms are common places that you might come in contact with the types of fungus that cause athlete’s foot.
What should you look for?
Athlete’s foot often appears as a red rash, scaly patches and peeling skin. It can also appear as fine, dry scaling on the bottom of the foot (which may look like dry skin), clusters of blisters on the sides of the feet, or as round dry patches on the top of the foot. Itching and burning are common symptoms of athlete’s foot.
Not all fungal conditions are athlete’s foot. Other conditions may be similar in symptoms and appearance. It is important to see your podiatrist if you suspect you may have an infection.
How can it be prevented?
The most important thing you can do to prevent fungal infections is to practice good foot hygiene. Wash your feet daily with soap and water and dry them carefully, especially between the toes; also be sure to change shoes and hose regularly to decrease moisture. Other tips for prevention include, avoiding walking barefoot, use shower shoes, wear light and airy shoes, wear socks that keep your feet dry, and change them frequently if you sweat heavily.