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Athlete's Foot

Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

By

Updated February 02, 2007

Athlete’s foot, also called tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection of the skin of the feet. This fungus is contagious and usually picked up easily through direct (or indirect) contact in public places like showers or locker rooms. Once you pick it up the fungus grows in warm and moist environments - like your running shoes. Athlete's foot may disappear quickly or it may become a long-lasting and recurring problem.

How Do you know you have it?

Symptoms of Athlete's Foot

  • Itching (most of this occurs between your toes)
  • Redness and scaling of the skin in affected areas (again, more often between the toes)
  • A rash, cracks, blisters or open sores
  • Discoloration, thickening, crumbling of the nails as the fungus grows

How do I get rid of athlet's foot?

Treating Athlete's Foot

The best treatment for athlete’s foot is prevention. You can prevent it with foot care and hygiene: wash your feet and socks after each workout, let your shoes air out completely, and limit moisture and dampness. In locker rooms you might consider sandals or flip flops, or make sure you wash with soap and dry your feet completely.

Once you have it, don't ignore it. If you take care (clean your feet, socks and shoes) right away, you can usually kill the fungus. Again, keep your feet clean and dry. Wash them well with warm soap and water and rinse completely. Dry them carefully by patting them dry, rather than rubbing. Then put on clean socks and change them often.

If this doesn't take care of the problem, you can use an over the counter anti-fungal powder or cream to control the infection. Talk to the pharmacist for information about the best medication for athlete's foot, and follow the instructions.

It may take several weeks for to get rid of a severe case of Athlete's foot, so be persistent with your self-care (and stock up on clean socks). If you have a particularly bad case of Athlete's Foot, you should visit your doctor for more powerful treatments.

Bottom Line

Prevention of Athlete's Foot

Proper foot care and hygiene will help prevent athlete's foot. Use Proper Footwear for your sport, and change your shoes and socks if they become too wet or sweaty. Another tip is to keep two pairs of shoes and switch them daily so you always have a clean (or at least dry) pair for activity. Keeping your feet dry is important so that the fungus has no place to live. Using a talc powder can also help keep the feet dry. You should also consider wearing sandals in locker rooms to avoid picking up the fungus from someone else.

Athlete’s foot common and not serious, however, some cases can indicate an more serious problem. If you have other medical conditions you should see your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and rule out any medical complications.

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