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Athlete’s Foot FAQ: What You Need to Know!

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

According to a recent study, “Around 15% to 25% of people are likely to have athlete’s foot at any one time.” This skin infection is especially common among athletes who may use common showers, towels, and other sports equipment. Learn more below about this condition and what you can do to treat and prevent it.

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that typically develops between the toes. It’s common among people whose feet have become sweaty and are confined by non-breathing socks/shoes. Athlete’s foot is related to ringworm, jock itch, and other common fungal infections. Because the infection can spread to other places on the body and to other people, it’s important to treat early on.

What are the symptoms?

Usually, the first sign people notice is a scaly red rash between the toes that’s accompanied by itchiness. In some people, athlete’s foot may cause scaly dryness on the side of the foot.

What causes athlete’s foot?

Damp socks and shoes create humid conditions which make it easy for this fungus to grow. The fungus can spread easily through physical contact, as well as contact with towels, floors and shared equipment. Wrestlers, rugby players, and other athletes involved in close-contact sports should read these tips on preventing skin infections like athlete’s foot.

Who is at risk for athlete’s foot?

Risk increases among:

    • Males
    • Individuals who often wear damp socks/shoes or tight fitting shoes
    • Those who walk barefoot in public areas (especially damp public areas where others are walking barefoot – e.g. pools, locker rooms, common showers, etc.)
    • Those who share towels or bed sheets with someone who has athlete’s foot

What can I do to prevent it?

You may be able to prevent athlete’s foot by keeping your feet dry, changing socks and shoes regularly to maintain dryness, and wearing protective shoes in damp common spaces. If you are prone to fungal infections, consider treating your feet with an anti-fungal powder.

How can I treat athlete’s foot?

Mild infections usually do not require an examination and diagnosis from a health care provider. Simple over-the-counter anti-fungal lotions or powders are usually sufficient. Prescription-strength medication may be necessary for persistent infections. A severe infection could require oral anti-fungal pills.

See a Sports Medicine Doctor In Houston

For other Houston sports medicine needs, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.