Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot, known medically as tinea pedis, is a common skin infection of the feet caused by fungus.[2] Signs and symptoms often include itching, scaling, cracking and redness.[3] In rare cases the skin may blister.[6] Athlete's foot fungus may infect any part of the foot, but most often grows between the toes.[3] The next most common area is the bottom of the foot.[6] The same fungus may also affect the nails or the hands.[4] It is a member of the group of diseases known as tinea.[7]

Athlete's foot
Other namesTinea pedis, ringworm of the foot,[1] moccasin foot[2]
A severe case of athlete's foot.
SpecialtyInfectious disease
SymptomsItching, scaling, redness of the foot[3]
CausesFungi (Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, Microsporum)[4]
Diagnostic methodBased on symptoms, confirmed by culture or microscopy[4]
PreventionAvoiding walking barefoot in public showers, keeping toenails short, wearing big enough shoes, changing socks daily[4][5]
TreatmentAntifungal medication applied to the skin or taken by mouth[2][4]
Frequency15% of the population[2]

Athlete's foot is caused by a number of different fungi,[3] including species of Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum.[4] The condition is typically acquired by coming into contact with infected skin, or fungus in the environment.[3] Common places where the fungi can survive are around swimming pools and in locker rooms.[8] They may also be spread from other animals.[5] Usually diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms; however, it can be confirmed either by culture or seeing hyphae using a microscope.[4]

Regardless of the name, athlete's foot can affect anyone. Some methods of prevention include: not going barefoot in public showers, keeping the toenails short, wearing big enough shoes, and changing socks daily.[4][5] When infected, the feet should be kept dry and clean and wearing sandals may help.[3] Treatment can be either with antifungal medication applied to the skin such as clotrimazole or, for persistent infections, antifungal medications that are taken by mouth such as terbinafine.[2][4] The use of the cream is typically recommended for four weeks.[4]

Athlete's foot was first medically described in 1908.[9] Globally, athlete's foot affects about 15% of the population.[2] Males are more often affected than females.[4] It occurs most frequently in older children or younger adults.[4] Historically it is believed to have been a rare condition that became more frequent in the 1900s due to the greater use of shoes, health clubs, war, and travel.[10]


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