What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection of your feet that causes burning, itching and a red rash.

In fact, athlete’s foot is caused by the same fungus that causes jock itch and ringworm. One of the most typical signs of athlete’s foot includes a scaly reddish rash, that appears between your toes, and usually causes itching, stinging and burning.

Remember, athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread on contaminated floors, towels or clothing.

Athlete’s foot risk factors include:

  • Sweaty feet
  • Not drying feet fully after showers
  • Having prior athlete’s foot infections
  • Wearing tight, closed shoes that don’t breathe well
  • Going barefoot at public pools and in locker rooms
  • Having a compromised immune system
  • Being diabetic

Signs and Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

The symptoms of athlete’s foot can occur almost anywhere on your foot but most commonly will be found between your toes or on your instep.

Symptoms include:

  • Red rash
  • Intense itching
  • Burning sensation
  • Cracked, dry scaly skin
  • Clear discharge from the rash
  • Unpleasant odor

Causes of Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection that thrives in a warm, moist environment. It’s easily spread by contact with the fungus in a variety of ways:

  • Touching the feet of someone who’s infected
  • Sharing personal items, such as towels or shoes
  • Walking barefoot on damp floors – like at a pool or in a locker room

Preventing the spread of athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is easily prevented. If you are susceptible to the fungus, you can avoid an infection by:

  • Protecting your feet in the shower and at the pool
  • Drying your feet, especially between your toes, thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes
  • Always wearing clean, dry socks that allow your feet to breathe
  • Letting your shoes dry out before wearing them again
  • Not sharing anything that could have come in contact with the fungus, such as socks, shoes or towels

The good news is athlete’s foot can be easily diagnosed through a visual exam and discussion of your symptoms.

Athlete’s Foot Treatments

Treatment for athlete’s foot ordinarily includes the application of an over-the-counter antifungal cream for a minimum of one week.