What is Athlete’s Foot?


A fungal infection can occur on any part of the body. When it happens to the foot, it is called “athlete’s foot.” Fungus often attacks the feet because it grows in a dark, moist, warm environment such as a shoe and/or sock.

Athlete’s foot is more common in warm weather when feet tend to sweat more. Fungus thrives in damp areas such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. Athletes commonly have sweaty feet and so that is why this infection is called "athlete's foot."

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Athlete's foot usually produces itchy, dry, scaling skin on the soles of the feet and in between the toes. In advanced cases, inflammation, cracks, and blisters may form. A bacterial infection can accompany this fungal infection.

Although athlete's foot typically happens to the feet, it can actually spread to other areas of the body, including the groin, which is called “jock itch.

Diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot

A foot and ankle doctor who checks your skin can usually diagnose athlete’s foot. Sometimes a KOH preparation is performed on the infected area. A biopsy of the infected skin may also be taken for histological examination.

Treatment of Athlete’s Foot

Treatment usually involves daily or twice daily application of a topical medication, which can take the form of a spray, powder, cream, or gel. There are a large number of antifungal drugs that your foot and ankle doctor can recommend.

The time-line for cure may be long, often 45 days or longer. You should continue to use the topical treatment for four weeks after the symptoms have subsided to ensure the fungus has been completely eliminated.

Prevention of Athlete’s Foot

Ideally, you want to prevent athlete’s foot from happening. Try avoiding walking barefoot and practicing good foot hygiene to help reduce the spread of the fungus. Feet should be washed every day with soap and water and thoroughly dried, including between the toes. Feet should be kept as dry as possible.

If your feet sweat a lot you may need to change your socks during the day. Anti-fungal powders, sprays, and/or creams are often utilized to treat athlete's foot. Your foot and ankle surgeon will recommend the best treatment for you.

Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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