What is Athlete’s Foot?

Your-Health-Online Back-to-Directory A health article about Athletes Foot from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies

Athlete’s Foot or Tinea Pedis is a fungal infection affecting the areas around toes and can spread to other areas of the foot.

Some forms are mild, but most can cause flaking, itching, deep painful cracks and bleeding and can produce a foul odor.

The fungus thrives in warm and moist places and it can be easily transmitted, specially in places like public showers, swimming pools, locker rooms, etc.

Signs & Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

If your feet are feeling itchy, let that serve as your first warning that you’re on your way to having athlete’s foot.

If your feet have this burning feeling as well, that’s the second sign.

When the skin on your feet starts to peel and even bleed, it’s almost a sure sign of having athlete’s foot.

Types of Athlete’s Foot

Your-Health-Online The most common fungal skin infection, which is also called ringworm because of its characteristic appearance of ring or rounded tunnel under the skin, is the tinea.

Tinea infections affect the head, body, groin, feet, and nails.

To obtain a specimen for diagnosis, the lesion is cleaned, and a scalpel or glass slide is used to remove scales from the margin of the lesion.

The scales are dropped onto a slide to which potassium hydroxide has been added. The diagnosis is made by examination of the infected scales microscopically for spores and hyphae or by isolating the organism in culture.

Foot (Tinea Pedis)

Tinea pedis, more popularly known as athlete’s foot, is the most common fungal infection. It is especially prevalent in those who use communal showers or swimming pools.

Tinea pedis may appear as an acute or chronic infection on the soles of the feet or between the toes. The toenail may also be involved.

Lymphangitis and cellulites occur occasionally when bacterial “super infection” occurs. Sometimes, a mixed infection involving fungi, bacteria, and yeast occurs.

According to medical experts, the types of athlete’s foot can be categorized into three: the Chronic interdigital athlete’s foot, the Chronic scaly athlete’s foot (moccasin type) and the Acute vesicular athlete’s foot. Chronic Interdigital Athlete’s Foot is considered as the most common type of the skin disease experienced by people.

It is usually characterized by scaling, fissures, and maceration found in the 4th and 5th toe webs. This type is usually the result of wearing tight-fitting and non-porous shoes that compress the toes, thus, creating a warm and moist environment between the toe webs.

The Moccasin Type Athletes Foot, on the other hand, produces dry, silvery, and very fine scaly skin on the sole of person’s foot. This type does not only infect the feet but the hands as well. People who have eczema or skin asthma are usually prone to this type of athletes foot.

The Acute Vesicular Athletes Foot is considered as the least common type of the skin disease and is traced to those who already have chronic interdigital toe web infection.

Characterized by the abrupt inception of extremely painful blisters found on the sole or top of the person’s foot, this type is considered as a serious skin disease because leads to waves of blisters visible in the remote sites of the body like the arms, chest, and sides of the fingers.

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungal infection that most often affects the fourth and fifth toe webs. Trichophyton rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, and Epidermophyton floccosum, the fungi that cause athletes foot, are unusual in that they live exclusively on dead body tissue (hair, the outer layer of skin, and nails).

The fungus grows best in moist, damp, dark places with poor ventilation. The problem doesn't occur among people who usually go barefoot.

Many people carry the fungus on their skin. However, it will only flourish to the point of causing athletes foot if conditions are right. Many people believe athletes foot is highly contagious, especially in public swimming pools and shower rooms

Research has shown, however, that it is difficult to pick up the infection simply by walking barefoot over a contaminated damp floor. Exactly why some people develop the condition and others don't is not well understood.

Sweaty feet, tight shoes, synthetic socks that don't absorb moisture well, a warm climate, and not drying the feet well after swimming or bathing, all contribute to the overgrowth of the fungus.

Causes & Prevention tips for Athlete’s Foot

Let’s begin discussing this condition by dispensing with the rumor once and for all: no, it’s not true that only athletes have athletes foot.

Also known as ringworm fungus and tinea pedis, athletes foot originates from fungus existing on floors and inside your socks and clothes.

The good news about athletes foot is that the fungus requires a certain type of environment before it can get its claws to your feet.

The bad news: 70% of the population will have athletes foot at one point or another.

Athletes foot can become a painful condition, so it’s important to treat it immediately.


• Footwear provides a favorable environment for fungi, and the causative fungus may be in the shoes or socks.

• Because moisture encourages the growth of fungi, the patient is instructed to keep the feet as dry as possible, including the areas between the toes.

• Small pieces of cotton can be placed between the toes at night to absorb moisture.

• Socks should be made of cotton, and hosiery should have cotton feet, because cotton is an effective absorber of perspiration.

• For people whose feet perspire excessively, perforated shoes permit better aeration of the feet.

• Plastic or rubber-soled footwear should be avoided.

• Talcum powder or anti-fungal applied twice daily helps to keep the feet dry.

• Several pairs of shoes should be alternated so that they can dry completely before being worn again.

Risk Factors:

Athletes foot is a very common condition of itchy, peeling skin on the feet. In fact, it's so common that most people will have at least one episode at least once in their lives.

It's less often found in women and children under age 12. (Symptoms that look like athletes foot in young children most probably are caused by some other skin condition).

Statistics say that adult males compared to women commonly experience athletes foot. This condition is also known to affect young boys and girls before they enter puberty stage.

Experts also say that people who have weak immune systems also become prone to infections such as athletes foot and they have to take precautions and preventive measures to avoid further infection.

If it's not treated, athletes foot can spread to the soles of the feet and toenails. Stubborn toenail infections may appear at the same time, with crumbling, scaling and thickened nails, and nail loss.

The infection can spread further if patients scratch and then touch themselves elsewhere (especially in the groin or under the arms). It's also possible to spread the infection to other parts of the body via contaminated bed sheets or clothing.

When to seek Medical Advice:

Before asking the doctor to smell look at your feet, you can get rid of athletes foot by wearing open-toed shoes more often and powdering your feet to prevent it from sweating.

Not all foot rashes are athletes foot, which is why a physician should diagnose the condition before any remedies are used. Using nonprescription products on a rash that is not athletes foot could make the rash worse.

The most important thing to do is to go see your doctor as soon as possible because an Athletes Foot that is not treated can spread to other parts of the body and other people that may have come in contact with the affected area.

A dermatologist can diagnose the condition by physical examination and by examining a preparation of skin scrapings under a microscope.

This test, called a KOH preparation, treats a sample of tissue scraped from the infected area with heat and potassium hydroxide (KOH). This treatment dissolves certain substances in the tissue sample, making it possible to see the fungi under the microscope.

You will know if the athletes foot becomes severe when the fungus has already set off a reaction that lead to tissue breakdown.

Characterized with soggy, softened, and whitened skin, eroded toe webs, severe itching, foul odor, painful cracking and blisters with bleeding, severe athletes foot should be examined by a physician before it becomes associated with a more complicated condition such as onychomycosis or the fungal infection of the toenails.



During the acute, vesicular phase, soaks of Burrow’s solution or potassium permanganate solutions are used to remove the crusts, scales, and debris and to reduce the inflammation.

Topical anti-fungal agents, such as miconazole and clotrimazole, are applied to the infected areas. Topical therapy is continued for several weeks because of the high rate of recurrence.

There are a variety of medicines, topical medicines that will help cure athletes foot. One of the most common type of drugs for these fungal infection is the athletes foot cream. This over-the-counter medicine help treat the athletes foot by killing the fungi that inhabit the area. Some of the most popular brands are Lamisil and Lotrimin.

Another treatment for these fungal infections is the athletes foot powder, which primarily works as a drying agent that keeps the moisture away from the affected area. Without moisture, the fungus cannot live long. Besides treating the problem, athletes foot powder also prevents the foot from getting infected again. Remember that a dry foot will not be infected with fungus.

Another treatment option for athletes foot is the athletic sandals, which a person can use when inside the shower room or by the pool side. Fungus can live in puddles of water inside warm and moist environments such as the shower rooms in gymnasiums and other sports facilities. It is therefore important that you protect your feet by not going barefoot when inside these facilities.

Another great product that can help prevent or treat the problem is an athletic pair of socks. These socks can help keep your feet dry especially when you are on the go. The sweat in your feet and the moisture in the feet after showering can be absorbed by these socks, thereby keeping your feet dry. It is however important that you change your socks often. Reusing your socks is not a good practice as this only invites fungal infection to settle in.

Most over-the-counter drugs stop the symptoms for a while, but it usually returns with vengeance.

Here is a simple and effective way of treating athletes foot from old times with easy to obtain natural ingredients:

Get some mutton fat (tallow) from a butcher's shop (beef tallow can also be used), trim the skin and blood vessels.

Cook over slow heat until it melts, strain and pour into jars, let it cool. (Mutton tallow can be stored in a fridge in an air-tight jar to prevent oxidation for a few weeks, beef tallow stores almost indefinitely without refrigeration).

Wash and dry your feet and apply the tallow to affected areas in a thin layer. Put clean socks on to prevent staining your clothes.

Athletes foot may be resistant to medication and should not be ignored. Simple cases usually respond well to antifungal creams or sprays (clotrimazole, ketoconazole, miconazole nitrate, sulconazole nitrate, or tolnaftate).

If the infection is resistant to topical treatment, the doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal drug. Untreated athletes foot may lead to a secondary bacterial infection in the skin cracks.

Athletes foot usually responds well to treatment, but it is important to take all medication as directed by a dermatologist, even if the skin appears to be free of fungus. Otherwise, the infection could return. The toenail infections that may accompany athletes foot, however, are typically very hard to treat effectively.

Self Care strategies for Living with Athlete’s Foot

Good personal hygiene and a few simple precautions can help prevent athletes foot. To prevent spread of athletes foot:

• wash feet daily
• dry feet thoroughly (especially between toes)
• avoid tight shoes (especially in summer)
• wear sandals during warm weather
• wear cotton socks and change them often if they get damp
• don't wear socks made of synthetic material
• go barefoot outdoors when possible
• wear bathing shoes in public bathing or showering areas
• use a good quality foot powder
• don't wear sneakers without socks
• wash towels, contaminated floors, and shower stalls well with hot soapy water if anyone in the family has athletes foot.

A footbath containing cinnamon has been shown to slow down the growth of certain molds and fungi, and is said to be very effective in clearing up athletes foot. To make the bath:

• heat four cups of water to a boil
• add eight to 10 broken cinnamon sticks
• reduce heat and simmer five minutes
• remove and let the mixture steep for 45 minutes until lukewarm
• soak feet

Other herbal remedies used externally to treat athletes foot include: a foot soak or powder containing goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis); tea tree oil (Melaleuca spp.); or calendula (Calendula officinalis) cream to help heal cracked skin.

Diet change strategies:

Taking zinc supplements and vitamin E from a good source will help speeding up the process and make it more permanent.

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations


One of the nutrition factors that is helpful with Athletes Foot is Aloe vera gel

While infections are likely to need medical intervention to bring them into order, aloe aids with the healing the damage to skin and tissue that the infection may have caused.

Another factor, your overall “wellness” is important for prevention of, and recovery from the multitude of health conditions that we find we are facing in our modern society.

Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.

It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.

Good quality nutrition products make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporate health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.

This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.

You may find benefit from our information on detoxification as well as a bit about detoxing because of change of diet

It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells. There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?

It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate.

Further reading through our articles on Athletes Foot health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

We wish you well in your search for solutions to this Athletes Foot problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

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Corns are areas of hardened skin, usually on the tips or tops of the toes, sometimes on the side of the foot. They can be extremely painful.

Usually they form in response to rubbing and pressure from too tight or too narrow shoes.

You can get rid of them using very simple method:

Get a clove of garlic, run it through a garlic press or cut up into small pieces, add a small pinch of sea salt and using a spoon - mash it till smooth. Put a dab of it on the top of the corn and cover with band-Aid.

In 2-3 days pull the band-Aid off - in most cases the corn will come off.

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