Athlete's Foot


Here’s a quick true or false quiz about athlete’s foot:

  1. Only athletes get this rash on their feet.
  2. Like the Terminator, it can come back when you think it is dead.
  3. Home treatments don’t usually work.

The answers:

  1. False. Anyone who is exposed to the fungus can get the infection.
  2. True. The fungus may still be there after the visible symptoms disappear, so you need to complete the full treatment.
  3. False. Many times you can take care of the infection with drug store remedies, although it can be tricky.

Athlete Tying ShoesHow You Get Athlete’s Foot

Certain conditions need to be right for this infection to invade your feet. First you need to be exposed to the fungus. That’s easy. It’s not like a machine-man has to come from another time and place—the fungus lives pretty much all around us. It particularly likes warm, humid environments like public pools and gym showers (the reason for the tie-in to athletes). It can also live on surfaces like towels, floors, bed linens, socks and shoes—any place that infected feet come in contact with.

Then, it just needs to sit there and incubate. Hot sweaty feet are the ideal place, especially if they are closed in non-breathable shoes all day. If people touch their infected feet, and then another area of their body, it can spread there, too (think jock itch and ringworm).

What Athlete’s Foot Looks Like

Your feet may look normal on the outside at first, just like the Terminator. As the fungus begins to grow, however, it creates a red rash that becomes scaly, with peeling skin and sometimes blisters. This usually starts between your toes, which are often the sweatiest places on your feet. It can spread from there into larger patches on the top of your foot.

There is another type (moccasin) that begins with dry, scaly patches on the soles of your feet and creeps up the sides to form a red rash in the softer skin on the side of your foot. Both types can be very itchy, particularly when you first take off your shoes and socks and your feet are exposed. You can also feel a burning, stinging pain at times.

How to Terminate the Invader

If you catch it early enough, you should be able to take care of athlete’s foot with drug store treatments. These creams, lotions, powders and sprays are quite effective on mild cases. The trick is to use them properly.

Wash and dry your feet each day, and then apply the medication to all infected areas. Do this with a disposable applicator such as a cotton ball or swab, not right from the container, so the fungus is not transferred to the medication. Treat your shoes with powder or spray each day as well to kill any lingering fungus there.

If possible, remove your shoes several times a day to let your feet dry out. Take extra socks, too, so you can change if the first pair gets too damp.

Kyle and Sarah thought they had finished off the Terminator several times, but it kept getting up and coming after them. Even when you think your athlete’s foot is gone, keep treating it faithfully for a couple of weeks to make sure all traces of the fungus have been eliminated.

See Our Colorado Foot Specialists for Help

If home care methods have not gotten rid of your infection, call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center at (303) 423-2520 and set up an appointment. We have prescription-strength medications you can try, and even oral medications for very severe cases. Our offices are conveniently located in Wheat Ridge and Golden, CO, with limited hours at our Granby and Evergreen offices as well. You can even set up an appointment through our website if that is easier for you. Let us help you defeat this infection for good and experience healthy smooth skin on your feet once again.

Photo credit: hyena reality via

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