Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the foot and toes. Many people will be familiar with the symptoms of athlete’s foot; dry, flaky skin that occurs between the toes, often occurring with a red, itchy rash. Athlete’s foot is a very common condition that will affect most people to some degree during their lives. It is normally easily treated using over-the-counter medicines and will clear up in around 7 – 10 days.
Athlete’s foot is caused by fungi know as dermatophytes that live as part of the normal bacteria and fungi on your skin. Dermophytes feed on dead skin and thrive in warm, damp and humid environments – an environment perfectly provided by your feet. The conditions provided by sweaty feet and shoes allow the fungi to multiply resulting in athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is very contagious and is particularly common in people who exercise regularly as the fungi thrives in communal areas such as showers, swimming pools and changing rooms. It therefore tends to be more common in teenagers and males but can affect anyone at any age.