Athlete's Foot

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideFungal Infections: Fungus Among Us

Fungal Infections: Fungus Among Us

What is athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot is a very common skin condition that affects the sole of the foot and the skin between the toes. It is usually a scaly, red, itchy eruption and occasionally may be weepy and oozing. It affects the feet of athletes and nonathletes alike. Although it is frequently caused by a fungal infection, other causes may be indistinguishable without proper testing.

The medical name for athlete's foot caused by a fungus is tinea pedis. There are a variety of fungi that cause athlete's foot, and these can be contracted in many locations, including gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools, nail salons, and from contaminated socks and clothing. The fungi can also be spread directly from person to person by contact. Most people acquire fungus on the feet from walking barefoot in areas where someone else with athlete's foot has walked. Some people are simply more prone to this condition while others seem relatively resistant to it. Another colorful name for this condition is "jungle rot," often used by members of the armed services serving in tropical climates.

Without the proper environment (warmth and moisture), the fungus may not easily infect the skin. Up to 70% of the population may develop athlete's foot at some time. An infection by athlete's foot fungi does not confer any resistance to subsequent infections.

What are the symptoms and signs of athlete's foot?

Many individuals with athlete's foot have no symptoms at all and do not even know they have an infection. Many may think they simply have dry skin on the soles of their feet. Common symptoms of athlete's foot typically include various degrees of itching and burning. The skin may frequently peel, and in particularly severe cases, there may be some cracking, pain, and bleeding as well. Rarely, athlete's foot can blister. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/29/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Freedberg, Irwin M., et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 5th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999.

Purim, Kátia Sheylla Malta, and Neiva Leite. "Sports-related dermatoses among road runners in Southern Brazil." An Bras Dermatol 89.4 (2014): 587-592.

Tlougan, B.E., Mancini, A.J., Mandell, J.A., Cohen, D.E., and Sanchez, M.R. "Skin conditions in figure skaters, ice-hockey players and speed skaters: part II - cold-induced, infectious and inflammatory dermatoses." Sports Med 41.11 Nov. 1, 2011: 967-984.

IMAGES:

1.iStock

2.iStock

3.Getty Images

4.iStock

5.Getty Images

6.Medscape

7.iStock

8.iStock

9.istock

10.iStock

11.istock

12.Getty Images

13.iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Men's Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Athlete's Foot - Symptoms

    How long did the symptoms of your athlete's foot last? Was there anything that helped with symptom relief?

    Post View 36 Comments
  • Athlete's Foot - Causes

    What caused your athlete's foot?

    Post View 9 Comments
  • Athlete's Foot - Treatment

    What was the cure for your athlete's foot?

    Post View 12 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors