Is Athletes Foot Contagious?

If you or someone you know has athlete's foot, you may be wondering if it's contagious. A fungal infection in the skin that most often (but not always) targets the feet, is indeed contagious. Knowing how and why the condition spreads can help you prevent infection in unaffected people.

Contagious Fungal Infection

Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus called Trichophyton rubrum (but may also be caused by other fungus in the Trichophyton family) that thrives is moist conditions. The fungus breeds on the skin and causes the skin to become dry, flaky, itchy and potentially blistered. It most often occurs in people who wear non-breathable socks and shoes frequently, or in people who expose themselves to moist environments shared by many people, such as public swimming pools and gym showers.

How the Infection Spreads

You can get athelete's foot from another person by sharing a towel or sharing a shower with someone who has the infection. Although not a highly contagious method of transfer, walking barefoot in public areas rich with moisture, such as the pool or gym shower, can also increase your chances of infection.

Once you've been exposed to the fungus, wearing clothing that doesn't allow your skin to breathe can increase your chances of developing the infection. Make sure your feet have been washed and thoroughly dried before putting on socks and shoes. You can use powder to keep your feet drier. Change your socks at least once a day and as soon as they get wet, even if they're just wet with sweat.

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