Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection. It refers to a dermatophyte infection of the spaces between the toes, usually between the fourth and fifth toes.
People who take part in sports are often plagued by athlete's foot.
The body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, dermatophytes, and yeast-like fungi (such as Candida). Some of these are useful to the body. Others may, under proper conditions, multiply rapidly and cause infections.
The fungi that cause athlete's foot thrive in warm, moist areas. Susceptibility to this infection is increased by poor hygiene, occlusive (closed-up, such as tennis shoes) footwear, prolonged moist skin, and minor skin or nail injuries.
Tinea infections are contagious, and can be passed through direct contact, or contact with items such as shoes, stockings, and shower or pool surfaces. They also can be transmitted from contact with pets that carry the fungus. Athlete's foot may be brief or long-term and may recur after treatment.
It may occur in association with other fungal skin infections, such as fungal infection of the toenails, feet or groin. The condition usually responds to self-care.
If the infection persists, long-term medication and preventive measures may be needed.
South African Podiatry Association (SAPA)