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What Causes Athlete’s Foot?

Several types of fungi, including yeasts, can cause athlete’s foot.

Most commonly, dermatophytes — fungi that require keratin for growth and frequently cause skin diseases — cause the foot infection. The fungi grow in the top layer of skin (the epidermis) and first enter the skin through small cracks. The microbes require moisture and warmth to proliferate. Although tinea pedis can affect any part of the foot, it most commonly affects the spaces between the toes.
You’re more likely to get athlete’s foot if you have:

A certain genetic predisposition
Allergies or dermatitis (skin inflammation)
A weak immune system
Poor blood circulation in the legs, such as from diabetes or peripheral arterial disease

Athlete’s Foot Symptoms
Tinea pedis may cause several possible symptoms that affect the feet, including:

Red and itchy skin (rash)
Mild scaling of the skin, which may cover small areas (such as between the toes) or the entire sole of the foot
Painful cracking (fissuring) of the skin, typically a result of severe scaling
Fluid-filled blisters
Thickening of the soles of the feet
The fungal infection can also spread to the nails, causing them to discolor, thicken, or crumble. Athlete’s foot can damage the skin and leave it open for bacterial infections, such as cellulitis, to take hold.

Is Athlete’s Foot Contagious?

Athlete’s foot is very contagious. It’s possible to get the infection from touching the affected skin of someone who has the fungi, even if they don’t have an active infection.It’s also spread by walking around barefoot on damp, contaminated surfaces, such as those of locker rooms and public showers.

In addition, you can get athlete foot if you have poor hygiene, such as if you:

Don’t wash and dry your feet after exercising, or after your feet get wet (including from sweat)
Share shocks, shoes, and towels with other people
Use socks or shoes that are wet, or that cause your feet to sweat a lot (including thick socks and heavy shoes that don’t breathe)
Reuse socks without washing them first (especially if you’ve sweated in them)
Wear shoes that are worn down
Fail to rotate shoes between uses

If you suspect you have Athlete’s Foot Dr. Ben Wehrli can help.

Make an appointment to see Dr. Wehrli if you suspect you have Athlete’s foot. He can prescribe anti-fungal medications to clear up the infection and relieve itching, and irritation.

In addition to using any medications your podiatrists prescribes, it’s also important to:

Keep your feet clean and dry
Keep your feet cool by taking your shoes off, or wearing sandals, as often as possible
Avoid wearing heavy, closed shoes or thick socks
Rotate the shoes you wear, and don’t reuse socks without washing them first
Avoid using swimming pools and public showers

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