Athlete's foot, known medically as tinea pedis, is a common skin infection of the feet caused by fungus. Signs and symptoms often include itching, scaling, and redness. In severe cases the skin may blister. Athlete's foot may infect any part of the foot, but most often grows between the toes. The next most common area is the bottom of the foot. Fungal infection of the nails or of the hands may occur at the same time. It is a member of the group of diseases known as tinea.
Tinea pedis is caused by a number of different fungi. These include species of Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum. The condition is typically acquired by coming into contact with infected skin, or fungus in the environment. Common places where the fungi can survive are around swimming pools and in locker rooms. They may also be spread from other animals. Usually diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms; however, it can be confirmed either by culture or seeing hyphae using a microscope.
Some methods of prevention include avoiding walking barefoot in public showers, keeping the toenails short, wearing big enough shoes, and changing socks daily. When infected, the feet should be kept dry and clean and wearing sandals may help. Treatment can be either with antifungal medication applied to the skin such as clotrimazole or for persistent infections antifungal medication that are taken by mouth such as terbinafine. The use of the cream is typically recommended for four weeks.
Athletes foot was first medically described in 1908. Globally, athlete's foot affects about 15% of the population. Males are more often affected than females. It occurs most frequently in older children or younger adults. Historically it is believed to have been a rare condition, that became more frequent in the 1900s due to the great use of shoes, health clubs, war, and travel.
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