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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Athlete's Foot - Cause

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection of the skin of the foot. Most athlete's foot is caused by one of two types of fungus.

  • Trichophyton mentagrophytes often causes toe webcamera.gif or vesicularcamera.gif (blisterlike) infections. The infection appears suddenly, is severe, and is easily treated.
  • Trichophyton rubrum often causes moccasin-typecamera.gif infections. This condition lasts for a long time (chronic) and is difficult to treat.

You get athlete's foot when you come in contact with the fungus and it begins to grow on your skin. Fungi commonly grow on or in the top layer of human skin and may or may not cause infections. Fungi grow best in warm, moist areas, such as the area between the toes.

Athlete's foot is easily spread (contagious). You can get it by touching the affected area of a person who has it. More commonly, you pick up the fungi from damp, contaminated surfaces, such as the floors in public showers or locker rooms.

Although athlete's foot is contagious, some people are more likely to get it (susceptible) than others. Susceptibility may increase with age. Experts don't know why some people are more likely to get it. After you have had athlete's foot, you are more likely to get it again.

If you come in contact with the fungi that cause athlete's foot, you can spread the fungi to others, whether you get the infection or not.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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