You do not have to be an athlete to have an athlete’s foot. This is basically a fungus infection of the foot, and most persons are liable to catch it to some degree, though some people are especially sensitive to the fungus. The name of this disease comes from the fact that it is often spread among athletes who share a common shower bath.
There are two chief types of athlete’s foot. In the more common form, a crack appears in the skin, usually at the base of the fifth toe or between the fourth and fifth toes. There is also some loose dead skin clinging between the toes. When this loose skin is removed, the skin is red and shiny.
The second type of athlete’s foot begins with a reddening of the skin between the toes, and it later becomes thick and begins to scale. Both these types may spread to cover part or all of the sole of the foot. And they may appear on both feet, though usually one foot is attacked more than the other.
There are several other diseases that can produce effects similar to athlete’s foot. So a person who decides to treat himself with some medi- cine should be sure he really has athlete’s foot. This is why it is safer to have a doctor examine your feet before you start your own treatment.
There are three types of fungi that cause athlete’s foot. They are present on the skin at practically all so it is possible to get an infection at any time. But when the skin warm and remains moist for long periods, the fungi get into the dead outer layer of the skin and begin to grow. The fungi produce certain chemicals in the skin while they grow, and if a person is not allergic or sensitive to these chemicals he may not be bothered by the fungi at all.
Some mild cases of athlete’s foot require no treatment and disappear as soon as the weather becomes cooler. But in serious cases, the feet should be kept dry, socks should be changed frequently, and certain lotions may be helpful.
How Long Does Athlete’s Foot Last?
Most mild cases of athlete’s foot clear up within 2 weeks.