What is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot is one of those irritating skin problems that just seem to appear and then stubbornly refuse to go away. Treated effectively though, it doesn't have to hang around for long.

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the skin, typically appearing between the toes but also on the soles and sides of the feet. Lots of us get it, in fact as many as 1 in 4 people will suffer at some point.


Athlete's foot. What is it, exactly?

athlete's foot symptoms

For you, it probably means sore, itchy or even smelly feet – with a small dose of personal embarrassment and a touch of confusion on top. Well, let's clear a few things up (including your feet).

From a medical standpoint, athlete's foot is a skin infection caused by microscopic fungus. It exists in warm, damp environments such as changing rooms and showers at gyms. Unfortunately, athlete's foot is very easy to pick up when you are barefooted. It can even be contracted simply by touching the skin of someone who's already infected.

Because your feet also offer similarly warm and slightly damp conditions, the infection can grow, especially between the toes. Once it has taken hold, the fungus feeds off a substance called keratin, which is a protein found in nails, skin and hair.

The diagram on the right will help you visually identify athlete's foot. The possible symptoms are as follows:

  • Itchy feet, especially between the toes
  • Burning sensation and inflammation
  • Itchy, peeling skin between toes
  • Cracked skin
  • Dry and flaky soles of feet
  • Smelly feet (caused by bacteria)
  • Blisters

So, where did it come from?

Where does athlete's foot come from

Tinea (dermatophytes) Candida (yeasts) and moulds are the main groups of fungi which may be living on your feet. So now you can put a name to your unwelcome visitors.

The fact is everyone has bacteria and fungus on their skin, which is harmless most of the time. However, in some conditions, fungus and bacteria can cause your skin to become infected.

Athlete's foot is an example of such an infection. While fungi cause the main infection, bacteria may cause the feet to smell. Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread through direct and indirect contact.

  • Direct contact involves skin-to-skin contact. For example someone could develop foot problems if they touch your infected skin and do not wash their hands afterwards.
  • Indirect contact can mean picking up the infection from contaminated towels, bed sheets and clothing.

Showers, swimming pools and changing rooms are common places where athlete's foot can be picked up. This is because, like your feet, these places are warm and humid – perfect conditions for bacteria and fungus to survive.

Treat Athlete's Foot with Canesten

athlete's foot treatment

Simply put, an antifungal is a good way to combat athlete's foot and that's where Canesten can help.

Canesten's clinically proven athlete's foot products effectively attack the main types of fungi. Not only are they all easy to apply they are powerful enough to penetrate into the skin to relieve the symptoms without being unnecessarily harsh.

In some cases of athlete's foot, a secondary bacterial infection can develop on top of the fungal infection; Canesten's athlete's foot products effectively treat the fungal infection and also have anti-bacterial properties.

There are several Canesten foot care products (treatment and protection) to choose from. Find out how to treat Athlete's Foot with Canesten

Remember: Always complete the full course of treatment.

How do you prevent Athlete's Foot in the future?

How to prevent athlete's foot

If you want to keep your feet healthy in the future, there are a few simple steps you can take. Keeping your feet clean and dry is of utmost importance and should be top of your list.

Here are some other foot care tips for fungus-free feet:

  • Wear flip-flops or sandals in public changing rooms.
  • After you have a bath or shower, dry your feet carefully, especially between your toes.
  • Put on clean socks every day.
  • Rotate your shoes, especially gym shoes. Don't wear the same pair every day.
  • Always take off sweaty sports shoes when you have finished using them. If your shoes are sweaty or wet, let them dry out before you put them on again.
  • Take your shoes off at home and let your feet 'breathe'.
  • Wear sandals when you can.
  • Wear cotton, silk, or wool socks rather than synthetic (nylon) ones. Wear shoes made of leather or canvas. These let your feet breathe more than plastic shoes.

Health advice - Athlete's Foot

PLEASE NOTE: This video is from the Channel 4 website and is not associated with the Canesten brand in any way