Athlete’s Foot

dreamstime_s_24941517Athlete’s foot causes scaling, flaking, and itching of the effected area. Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw tissue, pain, swelling and inflammation. The infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the groin, but is mostly manifested between the toes, with the space between the fourth and the fifth digits is most commonly afflicted.

Athlete’s foot is a communicable disease caused by a parasitic fungus Trichophyton. As the fungus requires warmth and moisture to survive and grow, the primary method of  incubation and transmission is when people who regularly wear shoes go barefoot in a moist communal environment such as a changing room or shower, and then put on shoes.

Due to the much reduced ventilation of the skin in shoes and the tight space in which the toes are forced to be pressed together  chances of infection are increased by not allowing moisture to escape. Fungus is only seen in a very small percentage of habitually (often) barefoot people, being barefoot allows full ventilation around the feet, causes them to remain dry and exposes them to sunlight, as well as developing stronger skin which will cause the fungus to be worn off before it can cause any infection.

When moving through an area that is likely to be infected it is important to remember that fungus requires for the foot to remain moist in order to grow. Since fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, keeping feet as dry as possible and avoiding sharing towels aid in  prevention. Always dry your feet thoroughly before putting on shoes and ensure that both the shoes and socks are clean and dry.

Since shoes are the primary mode of infection and incubation and since the fungus is almost non-existent in barefoot cultures the practice of keeping feet clean and dry is crucial in preventing re-infection.