DefinitionAthlete's foot is a common infection that affects the skin between the toes and soles of the feet.
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CausesAthlete's foot is caused by fungus. Fungus thrives in warm, dark, moist places such as the inside of a shoe, locker rooms, showers, and swimming pool areas. The fungus can exist on a floor, mat, rug, shoe, or towel and transfer to your skin when your feet come in contact with them. You can also get athlete's foot if you come into contact with fungus on someone else's feet. The fungus can then grow on your skin if your feet or the area between your toes stays slightly wet.
Risk FactorsAthlete's foot is more common in men. Other risk factors that increase your chance of athlete's foot:
- A history of athlete's foot infection
- Walking barefoot in locker rooms or public places
- Not keeping your feet clean and dry
- Wearing air-tight or poorly ventilated shoes or boots
- Sweaty feet
- Hot, humid weather
- Disorders of the immune system
SymptomsAthlete's foot symptoms usually starts in the webbing between the toes. It may spread to the soles or arches of the feet, or to the toenails if the infection continues. Athlete's foot may cause:
- Dry skin
- Itching (with or without burning), which gets worse as the infection spreads
- A white, wet surface
- Blisters, which may open and become painful
DiagnosisThe doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An exam of your feet will be done. Your doctor may suspect that you have athlete's foot based on the exam. If necessary, your doctor may scrape a small sample from the infected skin and look at it under the microscope to confirm a diagnosis.
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