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What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete's foot is a very common skin infection of the foot caused by fungus. The fungus that commonly causes athlete's foot is called Trichophyton. When the feet or other areas of the body stay moist, warm, and irritated, this fungus can thrive and infect the upper layer of the skin. Fungal infections can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, trunk, extremities (arms and legs), hands, feet, nails, groin, and other areas.

The most common symptom is cracked, flaking, peeling skin between the toes. The affected area is usually red and itchy. You may feel burning or stinging, and there may be blisters, oozing, or crusting. In addition to the toes, the symptoms can also occur on the heels, palms, and between the fingers. If the fungus spreads to your nails, they can become discolored, thick, and even crumble.

This fungus requires a warm and moist environment. Wearing poorly ventilated shoes and socks that harbor perspiration provide an ideal breeding ground for the germs that quickly multiply to cause athlete's foot. Contact with surfaces (shower, swimming pool and locker-room floors) that harbor the organism also contributes to development of this problem. It may also be transmitted by wearing the shoes of someone who has athlete’s foot.

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