Athlete's foot is annoying and itchy, but most of us don't know much more about it than the fact that it's a fungus and that athlete's get it. What should you know about athlete's foot?
First, the fungus that causes athlete's foot is a form of ringworm. It flourishes in moist, warm environments, and infects the upper layer of the skin - any skin, not just the feet. The assumption that athlete's foot only happens in athlete's feet is erroneous, as ringworm can cause infection anywhere, from scalp to toenail. (Just take a moment and imagine athlete's scalp. Awesome, isn't it?)
Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis (essentially, foot ringworm) most often affects the webbing between toes, causing itchy scaling, as well as sometimes thickening on the soles of the feet or causing blisters. Most cases of athlete's foot will include peeling skin, and in the most severe cases, the skin my crack or bleed.
Athlete's foot one of the most common forms of the ringworm fungus. It's also one of the hardest to get rid of, and it spreads easily. Swimming pools, locker rooms, and nail salons can often harbor tinea pedis colonies that are transferred easily, either from the surfaces of infected areas, or from person to person (or sock to person.)
People who have athlete's foot should check other common areas, especially the hands or groin, as the infection often spreads to other areas of the body. The most effective treatments treat all infected areas at once to avoid reinfecting treated areas.
Although athlete's foot can be extremely contagious, not everyone is equally susceptible to the infection. Some people can share showers for years without ever passing the infection to each other, while other people can easily pick it up from walking through a locker room.
The best treatments include using powders to dry up the moisture allowing the infection to flourish, followed by anti-fungal creams or sprays. Add to this frequent washing of sheets and socks in hot water to keep your feet from being reinfected.