Among the kinds of fungal infections that affect millions around the world annually, the condition that we commonly call athlete’s foot is among the most prolific. The actual medical name for this malady is tinea pedis, where the latin “pedis” shows that this skin condition affects the feet.

What Is Athlete’s Foot?

As a kind of general fungal infection, athlete’s foot is similar to other kinds of fungal conditions that occur on other areas of the body. Some may be familiar with conditions like ringworm or jock itch, but not know that these are in some ways related to athlete’s foot.

In general, fungal conditions can worsen under certain conditions: when the skin does not get fresh air and direct sunlight, or where damp conditions exist. That’s much of the basis for a case of athlete’s foot. However, this fungus is also communicable, which means individuals may get it from other people who are carrying it. Those carrying athlete’s foot can spread it to others through surface contact, where elements that are left on the ground can transfer to another person’s skin. That means that a whole lot of people get athlete’s foot at the gym, where shared showers can transmit this condition.

Many people contract athlete's foot on summer vacation, at the pools, beach washing stations and sidewalks around resort areas. Anywhere that masses of people tend to walk around barefoot, conditions like athlete’s foot have ideal conditions in which to spread.

Athlete’s Foot Symptoms

Although not everybody knows how this condition manifests itself, most of those who have contracted a case are all too familiar with its symptoms. Athlete’s foot can cause feet to itch and burn. The skin can get swollen, red, blotchy and irritable. In particular, this condition often affects the small spaces between the toes, as well as the heel of the foot. Athlete’s foot can lead to cracked, sore, inflamed skin and even grow on the toenails.

General Tips for Athlete’s Foot

In many cases, individuals can avoid getting athlete’s foot through some common practices that limit the spread of this fungal infection. Avoid walking on shared services directly, and keep feet dry, changing socks as often as possible. Treat any beginning cases with a topical solution offered over the counter (clotrimazole is a popular one) to keep it from spreading or getting worse. Keeping feet away from contaminated areas is key to avoiding athlete’s foot, which as many of us find out, isn’t just for athletes.

Always consider the advice of your family doctor before attempting to treat any condition, including fungal infections like athletes foot. Skilled medical professionals are qualified to provide advice on each kind of condition according to its intensity, as well as based on family history, existing medications, existing medical conditions and known allergies.