Athlete's foot, a fungal infection of the skin and sometimes nails, is often associated with feet because the feet are more often present the type of moist, confined area in which the fungus likes to breed. However, the fungus associated with this condition can spread to other parts of the body as well, including the hands.
The Causes of the Condition
Athlete's foot is caused by the fungus Trichophyton rubrum or other fungi of the Trichophyton family. This type of fungus breeds best in moist conditions and is contagious. If, for example, your bare skin touches a moist area that someone with the infection has touched, such as the area around a swimming pool, a public gym or even just an unwashed bath towel, the fungus can infect your own skin.
The Symptoms of the Condition
Skin infected by athlete's foot is dry, flaky and itchy. It's also potentially blistered. Nails infected by the condition are brittle and discolored and may have what appear to be deep scratches across the surface.
When the Fungus Infects the Hands
The condition typically at least starts on the feet because walking barefoot in moist, public places exposes your feet, and wearing non-breathable socks and shoes frequently gives the fungus the perfect environment in which to thrive. From there, the fungus can spread to other parts of the body. However, it is possible to have the fungus start on the skin of the hands.
If your hands touch a moist, public area or a towel used by someone else with the infection, or even if your hands touch your own infected feet, you could be spreading the infection to your hands unless you thoroughly wash and dry your hands after exposure. Even so, avoiding touching infected skin and places or things that may be infected can decrease your chances of exposure.