This Is What Really Causes Athlete's Foot

If you have ever taken a shower in a public place, you may have been told to wear flip flops to avoid getting athlete's foot. Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that presents as a scaly red rash, typically emerging between the toes before spreading around the rest of the foot. It is not only itchy and uncomfortable but may result in ulcers and blisters as well. 

Interestingly enough, it can spread from your feet to your hands if you scratch it, and it can be transmitted to other people as well. It often spreads through contaminated towels, clothing, and floors. If you are in a dorm or locker room using the same shower as other people, bringing your own towels and wearing some foot protection is a great idea (per the Mayo Clinic). With this in mind, you may be asking: what causes this type of infection to begin with?

What causes athlete's foot?

If you have athlete's foot, it is because a fungus is growing on the top layer of your skin. A warm, wet environment is the perfect place for fungi to grow, which is why this particular fungus is comfortable growing between your toes (per the University of Michigan Health). Because athletes use locker rooms and their feet are often sweaty, they are associated with the condition. Moist, warm feet can also encourage the growth of the fungus (per U.S. National Library of Medicine).

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that over-the-counter antifungal medicine is often effective at fighting the infection. However, you should see your doctor if your infection does not heal within a month of self-care. If your foot is warm and swollen, this may be another sign you should call your doctor, especially if there is pain or red streaks. These could be symptoms of a bacterial infection.