ABC Medical Center > Athlete’s foot

What is Athlete’s foot?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


Also known as ringworm of the foot or tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection that usually appears between the toes, although it can spread to various areas of the foot.

The fungi that cause this infection belong to the dermatophyte family, which feeds on the keratin of the skin and can infect one or both feet.

Athlete’s foot, whose name is because it is usually a common condition in athletes, is highly contagious and can be transmitted by direct contact with an infected person or by stepping barefoot on contaminated wet surfaces such as showers, hot tubs, saunas, locker rooms, or swimming pools.

Some other factors that can trigger it include:

  • Sharing clothes, towels, rugs, socks, or shoes with infected people.
  • Skin or nail injuries.
  • Keeping your feet moist for a long time.
  • Being a man.
  • Using closed and tight shoes that promote sweating.

Likewise, hot and humid environments can favor the growth of organisms. There are several types of athlete’s foot:

  • Interdigital: of high frequency; irritation, itching, and bad smell between the toes.
  • Dermatophytosis: it starts on the sole of the foot as scaling and spreads throughout the area causing cracks.
  • Inflammatory: its characteristic feature is the stench it gives off and the small eruptions on the sole of the foot.
  • Ulcerative: it is the least common, it manifests with blisters.

Signs and symptoms Athlete’s foot

The most frequent symptoms consist of:

  • Blisters.
  • Irritation.
  • Redness.
  • Itch.
  • Cracks between the fingers.
  • Inflammation.
  • Unpleasant smell.
  • Skin dryness.
  • Peeling of the skin.

If your foot is swollen, hot, or purulent, or the infection has spread to the leg, see your doctor immediately, as serious complications may occur.

Potential risks

An athlete’s foot can affect other parts of the body, such as:

  • Hands: when scratching or touching the contaminated areas of the feet.
  • Nails: if the fungus is lodged in the nails, they can present discoloration, thickening, and the possibility of detaching.
  • Groin: the infection is usually spread through towels.

Diagnosis and treatment Athlete’s foot

After analyzing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will examine your feet to assess the affected areas. If deemed necessary, they will perform a skin scraping to examine under the microscope and confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment usually consists of applying antifungal creams, powders, or sprays. If the infection continues weeks later, you’ll need to take oral antifungals.


In addition to medical treatment, you can take the following steps to speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of developing athlete’s foot, such as:

  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Wear clean socks every day and antifungal powder on your feet.
  • Wear ventilated shoes.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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