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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Athlete's Foot - What Increases Your Risk

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.

Athlete's foot is contagious, but 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 aren't susceptible to athlete's foot, you may come in contact with the fungi that cause athlete's foot yet not get an infection. But you can still spread the fungi to others.

Risk factors you cannot change

Risk factors you cannot change include:

  • Being male. Men are more susceptible than women.
  • Having a history of being susceptible to fungal infections.
  • Having an impaired immune system (due to conditions such as diabetes or cancer).
  • Living in a warm, damp climate.
  • Aging. Athlete's foot is more common in older adults. Children rarely get it.

Risk factors you can change

Risk factors you can change include:

  • Allowing your feet to remain damp.
  • Wearing tight, poorly ventilated shoes.
  • Using public or shared showers or locker rooms without wearing shower shoes.
  • Doing activities that involve being in the water for long periods of time.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 01, 2012
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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