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How Do You Get Athletes Foot?


In spite of its name, you do not have to be an athlete to develop Athlete's foot!  It mostly affects males.  Some are more prone to this condition while others are able to resist the condition easily.

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus which grows on top-of or inside-of the top layer of skin.  As it thrives in warm wet conditions, this means the areas between the toes provide a perfect environment for it to survive and spread. 

Here is a link to images of various skin conditions including athlete's foot. 

What is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot (also known as tinea pedis) is caused by a fungus leading to blisters and itching, stinging and burning between toes and on the soles of feet.  The types of fungus include Epidermophyton floccosum, Trichophyton rubrum or Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

While the infection is not life-threatening, it can be extremely uncomfortable. 

What causes Athlete's Foot?

As we have said above, the main cause of athlete’s foot is a fungal infection.  But the following act as a secondary cause:

  • Damp socks
  • Tight shoes
  • Humid conditions
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the infected person
  • Sharing of shoes, socks, towels, bed sheets and clothing with the infected person
  • Weak immune system 

Is Athlete's Foot contagious?

It is so contagious that it can even spread to the hands. This is known as tinea manuum and it can occur if you touch the infected skin on your feet and then don't wash your hands afterwards, causing a dry, red and itchy area that can be mistaken for the symptoms of eczema or the discomfort of psoriasis so a definite diagnosis by a doctor or dermatologist would be advisable.

There is always the risk (when scratching the infected skin on the feet and then touching other parts of your body) that the infection can be spread. Treating the athlete's foot infection quickly and always washing your hands after touching the area is advisable and helpful.

Athlete's foot is picked up when going barefoot in public damp areas such as floors around swimming pools, showers and gyms or by sharing towels, bathmats and even footwear. The condition is very contagious and can be easily spread so wear swim shoes, shower shoes or flip-flops if you are in such public areas. Once picked up, the condition thrives on sweaty feet that are confined to socks and/or tight-fitting shoes.  

What are the symptoms of Athlete's Foot?

  • Scaly and flaky skin.
  • Whitening and softening of the skin between the toes.
  • Soreness, fissuring, wearing down and crusting of the skin of the feet.
  • Burning, stinging and itching between your toes and soles of your feet.
  • Vesicles and itchy blisters on the sole of the feet.
  • Excessive dry skin.
  • Redness of the feet.
  • Discolored, ragged and thick toenails.
  • In severe conditions, bleeding from the cracked skin may also occur.

Here is a link to further information on this skin condition. 

How do I know if I have Athlete's Foot?

It is usually fairly clear from the symptoms whether or not you have athlete's foot but if you are concerned then your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition for you.  If he is unsure whether or not a fungal infection is causing the problems, he may order a skin test.

A skin lesion potassium hydroxide test is the most common where your doctor scrapes off a small area of infected skin and places it in potassium hydroxide. The KOH destroys normal cells and leaves the fungal cells untouched so they are easy to see under a microscope.img-banner - blankpixel_rickett_hl_thrdqtr_2866

How can you treat Athlete's Foot?

While athlete’s foot can often be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal medications, your doctor may prescribe topical or oral prescription-strength antifungal medications or he may also recommend more natural home treatments to help clear up the infection.

OTC medications include: 

  • miconazole (Desenex)
  • terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
  • butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
  • tolnaftate (Tinactin)

Here is a suggested list of the top ten natural remedies:

1. Baking Soda (soda bicarbonate).  Make a paste of one tablespoon of baking soda mixed with an adequate amount of water. Apply it directly on the affected area and rinse it off after a few minutes. Finish off the procedure by dusting the affected area with talcum powder.

2. Foot Soak.  Soak your foot for at least ten to fifteen minutes in warm water mixed with salt to get rid of athlete’s foot. Repeat the procedure every day until the infection disappears.

4. Tea.  The tannic acid present in ordinary tea is helpful in drying out sweaty feet fast. Steep at least five tea bags in boiling water and soak your foot (once the water is lukewarm) for a few minutes, regularly.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar.  The direct application of this type of vinegar on the affected area is a helpful remedy for athlete’s foot.  Keep applying regularly.

6. Plain Yogurt.  This contains acidophilus bacteria, which helps to eliminate the fungus. Simply apply the plain yogurt on the contaminated area and rinse off when it has dried.  Repeat regularly. 

7. Corn Starch.  This can be applied to the affected area with some cotton wool.  Wash off after fifteen minutes and repeat regularly. 

8. Vodka Mix.  Make a mix of one cup of vodka, three tsp powdered cloves, twenty five garlic cloves (pounded), and three tsp grounded cinnamon. Shake the mixture well and store in a jar. Simply apply the solution with some cotton wool regularly.

9. Lemon.  Squeeze the juice from one lemon and add two ounces of water.  Wash your feet with this lemon water as it will help to remove any sweaty odor from your foot while giving relief to the athlete's foot condition.

10.  Top of the list has to be our own H-Athletes Foot Formula This breakthrough product uses established homeopathic ingredients such as Calendula officinalis which is a most remarkable healing agent when applied locally.  The formula also contains the highest quality pure natural essential oils. The result is an all natural product that quickly soothes itching and burning. 

How to avoid Athlete's Foot in the first place or to prevent it returning

  • Always keep your feet as dry as possible. Change to socks made of special "moisture-wicking" fabrics (available in sports stores) as these are designed to keep feet dry.
  • When at home, put on socks to keep the feet clean, and change them twice a day. Wash your feet regularly (especially after playing sport) and dry them carefully.
  • Dry the area between your toes after bathing or swimming.
  • Wear leather shoes or sandals to allow your feet to breathe.  If you have to wear trainers for any reason, make sure they are well ventilated.  Avoid wearing the same shoes everyday and leave them out to air in between wearing (direct sunlight is good) instead of putting them away in a closet. Never put on damp shoes.
  • Wear socks made of cotton to soak up sweat.
  • Use anti-fungal talcum powder to prevent feet from developing athlete’s foot.
  • Do not share towels, socks and shoes with an infected person. Eliminate any fungus lurking in your personal possessions (such as towels and socks) by washing in hot water.
  • Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water to keep them clean.
  • Don’t walk barefoot in damp places. While using spas or public pools, wear water shoes or sandals.
  • Start treatment promptly as this makes the condition easier to treat.

It is common for athlete's foot to recur so keep on using any treatment long after you think it has disappeared to prevent this from happening.  

As well as athlete's foot, there are three other conditions that can be aggravated by wearing shoes.  They are nail fungusplantar warts, and cracked heels.



Athlete's foot. (2015, September 29)
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Athletes-foot/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Accessed Feb 10, 2021)
Barry L. Hainer. (2003, January 1). Dermatophyte Infections. American Family Physician. 67(1), 101-109
http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0101/p101.html (Accessed Feb 10, 2021)

Aaron DM. (2016). Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024878/.(Accessed Feb 10, 2021)