Your Podiatrist Talks About

Athlete’s Foot


            Athletes Foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. 

            The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid area which fosters fungus growth. 

            The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools and showers – locker rooms, for example – are also breeding areas for fungi.  Because the infection is common among athletes who use the facilities frequently, the term “athlete’s foot” has become popular.

            All fungus conditions are not athlete’s foot.  Other conditions, such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema, and psoriasis, are not athlete’s foot, although they may mimic it.


           The signs of athlete’s foot, singly or combines, are drying skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blisters.  Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin.  When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling.  Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads.

            Athlete’s foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails.  It can be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere.

The organisms causing athlete’s foot may persist for long periods.  Consequently, the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing to other parts of the body. 


It is not easy to prevent athlete’s foot because it is usually contracted in dressing rooms, showers, and swimming pool locker rooms where bare feet come in contact with the fungus.  However, you can do much to prevent infection by practicing good foot hygiene:  daily washing of the feet with soap and water; drying carefully; especially between the toes; and changing shoes and hose regularly to decrease moisture.  Also helpful is daily use of a quality foot powder.


     ♦  Avoid walking barefoot

     ♦  Reduce perspiration by using dusting powder

     ♦  Wear light and airy shoes

     ♦  Wear socks that keep your feet dry, and change them frequently if you perspire heavily


Fungicidal and fungistatic chemicals, used for athlete’s foot treatment frequently fail to contact the fungi in the horny layers of the skin.

In mild cases of the infection it is important to keep the feet dry by dusting foot powder in shoes and hose frequently.  The feet should be bathed frequently and all areas around the toes dried thoroughly.


     ♦  Expose the feet to sunlight

     ♦  Bathe feet frequently and dry thoroughly

        Consult your Podiatrist

      If an apparent fungus condition does not respond to proper foot hygiene and self care, and there is no improvement within two weeks, consult your podiatrist.  The podiatrist will evaluate the condition and determine if a fungus is the cause of the problem.  If it is, a specific treatment plan, including the prescription of fungicidal or fungistatic medication, applied locally or taken by mouth, will usually be suggested.

      If the infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics such as penicillin that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria may be prescribed.