Athlete's Foot: The Basics
“Make sure you wear your ‘flip-flops’ into that shower at camp!” You can still hear the words of your mother today
pleading with you to wear
those sandals as you embarked on the bus for summer camp.
If you went to college and
lived in a dormitory, your mother undoubtedly made you pack a pair of
sandals for your use in the communal shower.
Oh, she may never have called
the infection by name, but rest assured, she was doing her best to protect
you from athlete’s foot. It’s
a common fungal infection that spreads easily in public places, especially
in public showers, lock rooms and fitness centers.
Usually athlete’s food
affects those small, dark spaces between your toes. But if left untreated, it can often spread to your toenails
as well as the soles and sides of your feet.
The good news is that this infection is easily cured just by using
any number of over-the-counter remedies found in your local drug store. If
your case is more severe, it may require a visit to your health care
practitioner who can prescribe topical medication for it.
Athlete’s foot is also
known as tinea
pedis, ringworm of the foot and dermatophytosis. It’s closely related to several other fungal skin
conditions, most of which have similar sounding names.
Tinea is a type of fungus. Pedis
is the Latin word for “foot”.
A tinea infection can occur
in other areas of your body. For
example, tinea corporis causes a red rash the displays itself as a scale red
ring on the top layer of your skin. You
know this infection by its more common name ringworm of the body.
Tinea may strike men, causing
an itching in their genital, inner thighs as well as their buttocks, called
tinea cruris. We all know this
If you’ve ever had
school-aged children, then you may have encountered a form of tinea that
causes a red, itchy patch on the scalp.
This form of tinea is known as ringworm
of the scalp or tinea capitis and can result in bald patches on the
All of these conditions are
caused by a group of mold-like fungus called dermatophytes. Sprouting wispy,
fingerlike extensions dermatophytes infect the surface of the skin.
As a result, the deepest portion of our epidermis (which is the
outermost layer of your skin) produces an abundance of skin cells.
As these cells push their way to the surface, the skin becomes thick
and scaly. As you can imagine, the more the fungi spread, the more cells
your skin produces, and the more scales appear on your skin.
This causes the ring of the infection to form.