Athletes' foot is a fungal infection caused by organisms which can be passed on from humans, animals or soil. The fungus lives in dead skin cells and multiplies in warm sweaty shoes or trainers which can harbour the fungus. It can be picked up from swimming pools, communal changing areas, sports halls and schools.It is not advisable to go barefoot in these places.
Personal hygiene is most important to prevent Athlete's foot infection. Feet should be washed daily and dried carefully paying attention to the spaces between toes. Open sandals which allow free circulation of air should be used when possible and socks should be changed daily.
Symptoms can be simply peeling skin between toes with no itching until the infection is more severe with broken inflamed red skin and itching. A bacterial infection can enter the broken skin as there are a great number of bacteria on the foot.
Another form of Athletes' foot can occur on the sole of the foot causing dry flaky skin called moccasin type Tinea Pedis. This should be treated with an anti fungal cream.
Sometimes there is thick yellowish skin on the heel area which can become cracked and this is also caused by a fungal infection. It is important to remove all the dead skin and apply an anti fungal cream.
If the Athletes' foot infection is not treated successfully the fungus can enter the nail especially if it is damaged making it thick, yellow and distorted. Fungal nail infection is much more difficult and lengthy to eradicate.