Athlete’s foot, also called tinea pedis, is caused by a dermatophyte fungus that infects the top layer of skin on the soles of the feet and between the toes. It is a form of ringworm that is specifically located on the feet. Infection of the toenails with dermatophyte fungus, called onychomycosis, is often present along with tinea pedis. Athlete’s foot often results in flaky skin, cracking, and itchiness on the bottom of the feet and between the toes.
This skin disease is contagious and can be spread easily from skin-to-skin contact or from contact with a surface such as a gym, indoor pool deck, or shower floor, since the fungus can survive for a long time off the body. Treatment is important to limit spread of the disease and to prevent infection of others, but it is very common for this disease to recur on the feet or in between the toes in the future even after successful treatment.
The following is a list of suggestions for how to prevent Athlete’s foot:
- Wear flip flops or sandals when walking around the gym locker room, in a public shower, in an indoor pool area, or in a hotel room.
- Keep your feet dry. It can be helpful to wear sandals or flip-flops when it is hot outside and your feet might get sweaty in shoes and socks.
- Wash your feet every day with soap and dry them completely.
- Wear socks made of fabric that quickly wicks moisture away from the skin. Change your socks every day or more often if they become wet.
- Alternate the shoes you wear each day if possible. Make sure your shoes are dry before you put them on.
- Using a medicated foot powder like Zeasorb-AF on your feet before putting socks and shoes on can help a lot.
- Using a disinfectant spray in your shoes periodically can help.
- Do not share towels, linens, or shoes with someone else.
- Wash and change your towels often.
- Clean your shower floor with a bleach-based cleaner frequently.