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More on Athlete's Foot

Athlete's Foot (cont.)

What are possible complications of athlete's foot?

Untreated, athlete's foot can potentially spread to other body parts or other people, including family members. Fungus may spread locally to the legs, toenails, hands, fingernails, and essentially any body area.

  • Fungal nail infection (onychomycosis)
  • Groin fungus (tinea cruris)
  • Body skin fungus (tinea corporis)
  • Secondary bacterial infections

This type of fungus generally likes to live in the skin, hair, and nails. It does not invade deep, go into body organs, or go into the blood system.

Fungal infections of the nails are called tinea unguium or onychomycosis. Nail fungus may be very difficult to treat. Antifungal pills may be required in cases of more advanced toenail fungal infections.

People with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, or other immune problems may be more prone to all kinds of infections, including fungus. In patients with diabetes, fungal infections may lead to potentially dangerous foot ulcerations.

When the skin is injured by fungus, the natural protective skin barrier is broken. Bacteria and yeasts can then invade the broken skin. Bacteria can cause a bad smell. Bacterial infection of the skin and resulting inflammation is known as cellulitis. This is especially likely to occur in individuals with diabetes, chronic leg swelling, who have had veins removed (such as for heart bypass surgery), or in the elderly. Bacterial skin infections also occur more frequently in patients with impaired immune systems.

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