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All about athlete's foot

Published in Orthopedics, For the Health of It Author: Kristen M. Sigurdson, DPM

The foot has a lot of demands made on it. In a normal day, a person can easily walk 15 miles. But in return, we rarely give our feet the attention they deserve, hiding them away in shoes and forgetting about them. That is, until they begin to hurt.

One of the most common problems foot and ankle podiatrists see is athlete’s foot. The rash is caused by a fungus that thrives in the closed, warm and moist environments inside your socks, shoes or in-between your toes.

Athlete’s Foot Symptoms

  • The affected area of your foot may be peeling and have small blisters.
  • It may also appear red, dry, itchy and contain a sticky clear fluid.
  • Someone with the condition may experience severe pain from the condition. Patients often report a burning, stinging and itchy sensation.
  • If left untreated, athlete’s foot can also cause deep cracks in the skin which can lead to a secondary bacterial infection.

How It’s Caused

  • Most people have the fungus present on their skin, but are unaffected by it. Until they have bruising or cracks in the skin that allow entry for the fungus.
  • Not changing your socks on a regular basis can also encourage a build-up of the fungus.
  • People with excessively sweaty feet are more prone to this condition.
  • It may also be spread between individuals in bathrooms, showers, swimming pools and changing rooms.


  • Wear socks made of natural material, such as cotton or wool. Or use a synthetic fiber designed to draw moisture away from your feet.
  • Alternate pairs of shoes. This allows time for your shoes to dry.
  • Protect your feet in public places. Wear waterproof sandals or shower shoes in pools and fitness centers.

How to Treat

  • Keep your feet clean and dry. Use medicated powders or soaking crystals to help.
  • Change your socks daily, or more often, if they become wet from sweating.
  • Avoid shoes made of vinyl, rubber and plastic that don’t allow air to flow freely into the shoe.
  • In general, athlete’s foot can be treated using over-the-counter treatments.

Skin is the body’s natural barrier – and an opening in this barrier caused by persistent athlete’s foot can lead to a bacterial infection. Redness, swelling, pain, thick fluid drainage (pus) could be a sign of a bacterial infection. Any of these symptoms require immediate treatment to avoid a spreading of the infection.

Also contact your health care provider if your infection appears to be spreading, if you have diabetes or if your symptoms haven’t improved after 2 weeks of treatment.