Also Known As: Tinea Pedis, Athlete's foot, Athletes foot, Toe Fungus
Athlete's foot (also known as ringworm of the foot and tinea pedis) is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itch of affected areas. It is caused by fungi in the genus Trichophyton and is typically transmitted in moist areas where people walk barefoot, such as showers or bathhouses. Although the condition typically affects the feet, it can spread to other areas of the body, including the groin. Athlete's foot can be treated by a number of pharmaceuticals (including creams) and other treatments. This does need to be differentiated from toe nail fungus, (Onychomycosis) as the treatments and causes are different.
Athlete's foot causes scaling, flaking, and itching of the affected skin. Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw tissue, pain, swelling, and inflammation. Secondary bacterial infection can accompany the fungal infection, sometimes requiring a course of oral antibiotics.
The infection can be spread to other areas of the body, such as the groin, and usually is called by a different name once it spreads, such as tinea corporis on the body or limbs and tinea cruris (jock itch or dhobi itch) for an infection of the groin. Tinea pedis most often manifests between the toes, with the space between the fourth and fifth digits most commonly afflicted.
Some individuals may experience an allergic response to the fungus called an "id reaction" in which blisters or vesicles can appear in areas such as the hands, chest and arms. Treatment of the fungus usually results in resolution of the id reaction.
- From person to person
Athlete's foot is a communicable disease caused by a parasitic fungus in the genus Trichophyton, either Trichophyton rubrum or Trichophyton mentagrophytes. It is typically transmitted in moist environments where people walk barefoot, such as showers, bath houses, and locker rooms. It can also be transmitted by sharing footwear with an infected person, or less commonly, by sharing towels with an infected person.
- To other parts of the body
Hygiene, therefore, plays an important role in managing an athlete's foot infection. Since fungi thrive in moist environments, keeping feet and footwear as dry as possible, and avoiding sharing towels, etc., aids prevention of primary infection.