Athlete's foot, known medically as tinea pedis, is a common skin infection of the feet caused by fungus. Signs and symptoms often include itching, scaling, cracking and redness. In rare cases the skin may blister. Athlete's foot fungus may infect any part of the foot, but most often grows between the toes. The next most common area is the bottom of the foot. The same fungus may also affect the nails or the hands. It is a member of the group of diseases known as tinea.
|Other names||Tinea pedis, ringworm of the foot, moccasin foot|
|A severe case of athlete's foot.|
|Symptoms||Itching, scaling, redness of the foot|
|Causes||Fungi (Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, Microsporum)|
|Diagnostic method||Based on symptoms, confirmed by culture or microscopy|
|Prevention||Avoiding walking barefoot in public showers, keeping toenails short, wearing big enough shoes, changing socks daily|
|Treatment||Antifungal medication applied to the skin or taken by mouth|
|Frequency||15% of the population|
Athlete's foot is caused by a number of different fungi, including species of Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum. The condition is typically acquired by coming into contact with infected skin, or fungus in the environment. Common places where the fungi can survive are around swimming pools and in locker rooms. They may also be spread from other animals. Usually diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms; however, it can be confirmed either by culture or seeing hyphae using a microscope.
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. When infected, the feet should be kept dry and clean and wearing sandals may help. 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. The use of the cream is typically recommended for four weeks.
Athlete's foot was first medically described in 1908. Globally, athlete's foot affects about 15% of the population. Males are more often affected than females. It occurs most frequently in older children or younger adults. 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.