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Have you started experiencing uncomfortable symptoms like shedding skin on your feet, an unbearable itch, a funky smell, and maybe a burning sensation between your toes? It might be athlete’s foot!
A common skin condition that affects the feet, anyone can get athlete’s foot – not just regular gym-goers and hardcore athletes! Learn more about this common infection, its symptoms, treatment options, and prevention tips below.
What is Athlete's Foot?
Also known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is an infection characterized by itchiness, redness, and even cracking skin on the bottoms of the feet and toes.
This common infection is highly contagious and grows in warm, moist environments, which is why it is most often found on the feet. Sweaty socks and moist shoes encourage athlete’s foot to flourish, resulting in dry, cracked, itchy skin.
Athlete's Foot FAQ
Athlete’s foot is caused by a specific class of fungal organisms called dermatophytes. These fungi thrive in damp and moist environments, making places like showers and locker rooms, moist feet, warm gym shoes, and sweaty socks, the perfect place to grow.
Athlete’s foot is very common and contagious, spreading between people through direct contact or by touching surfaces contaminated with the fungus, such as a locker room floor. .
There are several effective athlete’s foot treatments available. We recommend either over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for minor cases and prescription-based treatments for more stubborn cases of athlete’s foot:
Over-the-counter (OTC) Treatments are readily available and can come as antifungal powders, sprays, ointments, and lotions. Usually, athlete’s foot responds well to this form of treatment and doesn’t require additional treatment options.
Prescription-Based Treatments are used when symptoms haven’t subsided after a week or so of treating athlete’s foot with OTC medication. In situations like this, a prescription-based antifungal (either oral or topical) is often needed to treat the infection.
Athlete’s foot has a few distinct symptoms that make it easy to catch and treat. Some common symptoms and what athlete’s foot may look like are:
- Itching, stinging, and burning between the toes or on the soles of the feet.
- Cracking and peeling skin on the feet, most commonly between the toes and on the soles.
- Dry skin on the soles or sides of the feet.
- Raw skin on the feet.
- Discolored, thick, and crumbly toenails.
- Toenails that pull away from the nail bed.
- Blisters on the feet that itch.
If you’re experiencing any of the things listed above, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist or doctor for a proper diagnosis and effective treatment plan.
Ultimately, the best treatment for athlete’s foot is taking a few steps to prevent yourself from getting it in the first place. Here are our top athlete’s foot prevention tips:
- Allow your feet to breathe and wear breathable shoes when possible.
- Don’t walk barefoot at the gym, in the locker room, or when at the pool.
- Only use and wear your own footwear; don’t share socks, shoes, or anything else with others.
- Keep your feet nice and dry.
- Opt for breathable fabrics and materials, like cotton and synthetic fibers that wick away moisture, as well as breathable mesh.
Preventing athlete’s foot with the tips above is the best way to ensure the health and happiness of your feet! Especially when achieving your fitness goals this year.