What is athlete's foot?

In spite of its name, anyone can get athlete's foot. Wearing socks that are damp from sweat and moisture and keeping your feet confined in close-toed shoes creates a breeding ground for athlete's foot, a microscopic fungus that often starts between the toes. Walking around barefoot in public showers, pool areas and locker rooms is another way for this highly contagious skin infection to spread.

Symptoms of athlete's foot

Athlete's foot often starts with itching between the toes where you may see red, cracked skin. The more you scratch, the more inflamed it becomes and if you touch yourself in other areas of your body, the fungus can spread.

Other symptoms of athlete's foot include:

  • Blistering skin
  • Dry, scaly patches on the heels of feet
  • Rash that spreads to the instep of your foot
  • Red bumps on the feet

Athlete's foot prevention and treatment options

Keeping feet dry and clean is especially important to help prevent athlete's foot. It also helps to wear appropriate footwear in places where athlete's foot lives.

In some cases, athlete's foot may go away on its own with attention to good foot hygiene. Other treatments include antifungal powders and creams as well as antibiotics. If you're taking good care of your feet but still see no improvement after a couple of weeks, it's time to call a doctor.

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