Get the facts
What is Athlete's foot?
Athlete’s foot is one of the most common types of fungal infection, affecting approximately 15% of the world population1. It is triggered by a fungus that grows on or in the top layer of the skin and causes a rash that may be accompanied by mild scaling, redness, itching and/or burning. Athlete’s foot spreads easily, commonly recurs, and is found mainly between the toes but may affect other areas including the sides and soles of the foot2.
How do I get it?
Anyone can get athlete’s foot. It is spread from one person to another by either direct contact with an affected individual or indirectly through contact with surfaces harboring the fungi, such as swimming pools and locker rooms3. Once you become infected, the fungi grow in your shoes, especially if your shoes are so tight that air cannot move around your feet. It is important to fully treat athlete’s foot each time symptoms develop in order to help prevent a recurrence.
How to get rid of it?
Athlete’s foot can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines4. There are a variety of OTC treatment options on the market, including Tinactin® (tolnaftate). OTC medicines are available in creams, lotions, solutions, gels, sprays, ointments, swabs, or powders that are applied to the skin. The chances of killing athlete’s foot are greatest when you treat it for the prescribed period of time, as live fungi remain on your skin for days after your symptoms have disappeared. With Tinactin®, treatment is recommended for 4 weeks.
How to stop it from coming back?
You can take measures to help reduce your chances of becoming re-infected with athlete’s foot5, including the following.
- Wearing shower sandals in shared areas like locker rooms.
- Reducing moisture on the feet and in footwear. Using powder, preferably antifungal, on your feet daily helps keep your feet dry.
- Wearing open-toe shoes or shoes that “breathe” and frequently changing socks are important, especially during warm weather when feet are more likely to be sweaty.
- Thoroughly dry your feet after bathing, paying particular attention to the spaces between your toes.
For more information about foot care, visit drscholls.ca
- Bell-Syer, S. E., Hart, R., Crawford, F., Torgerson, D. J., Tyrrell, W., & Russell, I. (2002). Oral treatments for fungal infections of the skin of the foot. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2).
- Ilkit, M., & Durdu, M. (2015). Tinea pedis: the etiology and global epidemiology of a common fungal infection. Critical reviews in microbiology, 41(3), 374-388.
- Conklin, R. J. (1990). Common cutaneous disorders in athletes. Sports medicine, 9(2), 100-119.
- Bodman, M. (2018). Treatment Principles for Tinea Pedis. Podiatry Today, 31(7),44-51.
- American Academy of Dermatology.