Athlete’s foot : Causes, symptoms and treatments


Athlete’s foot is the name given to an Ikin disease which usually affects the skin lying in and around the sole of the foot. It shows up as red and scaly eruption which can also gradually develop into fluid-filled small blisters. Despite the name, it can affect both the athletes as well as the non-athletes.


Athlete’s foot is caused due to fungal infection and goes by the medical name tinea pedis. The fungus could be contracted anywhere from swimming pools to locker rooms to gyms, communal showers and nail salons. The affecting fungus can also spread directly through interpersonal contact. Most people acquire them due to having walked barefoot in a contaminated area. While some people are naturally more resistant to the infection, some people are not and tend to catch the infections more easily.

The infections are usually accelerated by moisture and warmth. Hence the shoes worn by the affected person could have a major role in containing or spreading the condition. It has been estimated that upto 70% of the total population have chances of developing athlete’s foot atleast during some point in their lives.

Other possible triggers for athlete’s foot include irritation or allergic rashes from shoes or other medicated creams, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, yeast infections and bacterial infections. The symptoms can easily be mistaken for other skin conditions. Hence, it is best to consult a doctor before starting with any form of medication.


Sometimes, a person having athlete’s foot does not show any symptom at all. Since the symptoms can come out as very mild, the person may not even have any knowledge that he has an athlete’s foot. They are commonly mistaken for dry skin. However, in case of athlete’s foot, the skin dryness is also accompanied by itchiness, stinging and burning sensation. The skin may seem like it’s going to peel off, but pulling the scales can result in bleeding, cracking, fissuring and pain. Rarely, they also develop into blisters.


The problems can accelerate if the skin is left neglected and untreated for a long amount of time. It could result in severe bacterial infections and spread to the entire feet including the toe nails. Having been caused due to fungus, athlete’s foot can be treated. However, this will not stop them from coming back in the future. Athlete’s foot can keep on recurring especially if

  • No prevention is taken on a regular basis against the fungi causing athlete’s foot
  • Not sticking to the prescribed medications for the suggested time period
  • If the fungi are not completely killed even after having completed the course of medicine

The conditions can aggravate if the symptoms are more sudden and frequently recurring. This could lead to long term infections.


There are a number of treatment options for athlete’s foot. However, proper foot hygiene is the most important of them all. Occlusive shoe materials should be used along with anti fungal powders to promote a dry, clean and friction free environment in the feet. Absorbent socks and antiperspirant powders like Drysol could be helpful. Other popular medications include miconazole, luliconazole, econazole, naftifine, butenafine, terbinafine, clotrimazole, ciclopirox, ketoconazole, sertaconazole, efinaconazole, sulconazole, and tolnaftate.

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