Tinea pedis (athlete’s feet) is a fungal infection that affects the feet. Ringworm of the feet is another name for it.
This is most common in those whose feet become hot from wearing tight-fitting shoes.
The incidence of athlete’s foot is between 15 and 25% of the population.
Athlete’s foot symptoms and signs
A scaly rash is the most common sign of athlete’s feet. It causes an itching sensation and burning sensation, usually between the toes.
The “moccasin” variety of athlete’s feet causes scaling and dryness on the soles. It can also spread to the sides of the feet and could be mistaken as dry skin or eczema.
The foot symptoms of athlete’s feet include:
- Itchy and red skin
- Mild scaling of skin may occur in small areas or all over the sole of the feet.
- Painful cracking (fissuring) of the skin, typically a result of severe scaling
- Blisters stuffed with fluid
- Thickening in the soles
Fungal infections can also affect the toenails. They may become thicker, discolored, or even crumbly.
Athlete’s foot can damage the skin and leave it open for bacterial infections, such as cellulitis, to develop.
Talk to your doctor if your foot rash doesn’t disappear within two weeks after you started self-care using an over-the counter antifungal spray or ointment.
The infection is usually minor. However, it can become more severe if you have diabetics. Talk to your doctor if there is excessive redness, swelling or drainage.
These symptoms could be an indication of secondary infections that could spread to other parts of the body and lead to serious health problems.
The causes and risk factors of athlete’s foot
Many types of fungi can cause athlete’s foot, including yeasts.
The most common cause of foot infections is dermatophytes, which are fungi that require keratin to grow and often lead to skin diseases.
Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes are often responsible for the condition. Epidermophyton floccosum, a dominant species behind athlete’s foot, is also an option.
The skin infections of ringworm, jock itch and other dermatology-related diseases can also be caused by Dermatophytes.
The fungi that causes athlete’s feet grow in the epidermis, the top layer of the skin. They then enter the skin via small cracks.
For microbes to thrive and spread, they need moisture and heat.
Contagious infection of athlete’s foot can be transmitted to others by touching the skin.
In addition, you can get athlete’s foot if you have poor hygiene, such as if you:
- After exercising, don’t dry your feet.
- Wear tight-fitting shoes or socks that are damp
- You can share mats, rugs and bed linens with someone else.
- Walking barefoot in public areas like locker rooms, saunas and swimming pools is not recommended.