Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. It can lead to intense itching,
cracked, blistered or peeling areas of skin, redness and scaling. It
can occur on moist, waterlogged skin especially between the fourth and
fifth toes, or on dry, flaky skin around the heels or elsewhere on the
What causes it?
It’s caused by a number of fungal species which you can pick up from
anywhere (typically communal areas such as pools, showers and changing
rooms) or anywhere where you may walk around barefooted.
The fungus on each bit of skin that falls away from someone else’s feet can be picked up by you if you’re prone.
Once your feet have been contaminated, the warm, dark and sweaty
environment of feet cramped in shoes or trainers provides the ideal
breeding ground for the fungus. However, athlete’s foot also occurs in
dry, flaky areas. It’s quite common in summer sandal-wearers. The sun
makes your skin dry out, so it loses its natural protective oils; this
combined with the constant trauma from sandals makes them more prone to
Who gets it?
Well, it’s not called athlete's foot for nothing. Walking barefoot
around swimming pools and spending your life in trainers make you more
likely to suffer. But obviously, you don’t need to be an athlete to
Is it serious?
If left untreated, the fungus can spread to the toe nails, causing
thickening and yellowing of the nail, which is much harder to treat.
Fungal infections are highly contagious and can spread to anywhere on
your skin – to your scalp, hands and even your groin, especially if you
use the same towel for your feet as for the rest of your body.