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What Is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is the common term used to describe the skin infection caused by the fungus Trichophyton. The the fungus can only survive in warm, moist environments and typically grows best on the feet of persons wearing damp socks, non-ventilated shoes, and those that wear tight shoes allowing a nice breeding ground between the toes.
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis, dermatophytosis, or ringworm of the foot its more proper names) is a fungal infection of the skin that is most commonly caused by the fungus Trichophyton rubrum, one of four dermatophytes known to cause the infection. The fungus that causes Athlete’s foot is easily transmitted through skin fragments and other items left behind by its carrier. Common damp surfaces such as shower floors, bed linens, socks, shoes, and swimming pool areas provide the ideal environment the fungi need to attach itself to other unsuspecting surfaces and victims.
Athlete’s foot is best known to occur amongst athletes and males because they tend to frequent the damp, closed surfaces that harbor the fungi best - locker room floors, gym showers, and fitness centers. However, the fungi that causes athlete’s foot can live and be spread to any person (male, female, adult or child) and in any environment that provides the conditions necessary for its growth.
Once attached to the skin of the foot, athlete’s foot can still only survive in warm, moist environments. Therefore, everyone who comes in contact with the fungus will not develop Athlete’s foot. However, in persons that provide the necessary conditions the fungus needs, Athlete’s foot begins to grow and multiply initially on the surface of the skin, and then down into the living skin tissue leading to the actual infection.
The fungi spread rapidly on persons with feet that sweat causing damp socks and on those that wear tight shoes allowing moisture to form between the toes. The infection typically occurs between the toes, and then spreads to the bottoms and sides of the foot if left untreated.
Hot Topic: How to Stop Athletes Foot from Spreading
Persons diagnosed with athlete’s foot bear the responsibility of preventing the spread of infection to others, as well as to other parts of their body. The most effective ways to stop athlete’s foot from spreading include:
- Don’t scratch. Scratching your infected feet can spread to any part of your body that can provide ideal conditions for the fungi to grow such as the groin, armpits, scalp, behind the ears, etc.
- Keep linens such as bed sheets and towels clean and dry to prevent other people or other body parts from rubbing across infected skin, tissue or particles that may be left behind.
- Use antibacterial disinfectants on shower and bathtub floors.
- Wash you hands thoroughly after applying medications directly to the infected areas.