What Is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot is a contagious fungal infection. It's caused by a certain kind of fungus that loves warm, moist conditions (like in your boots or shoes).

Here's what you need to know about athlete's foot:

  • Athlete's foot causes itchy, dry, cracking skin on your feet (but symptoms may vary).
  • Athlete's foot affects 1 in 5 people at some point in their lives.
  • Athlete's foot can be cured with antifungal treatments.
  • Everyone is susceptible to athlete's foot, not just athletes.

The Causes of Athlete's Foot

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You can get athlete's foot by touching someone's infected skin or through contact with an infected surface (like a shower floor or towel).

Shoe Icon

Closed-toe shoes (like boots) give the fungus the heat and moisture that it needs to grow and spread.

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The fungus that causes athlete's foot can spread—even with brief contact—to different parts of your body (hands, toenails, or the groin area).

Hygiene-Related Diseases. (2009, December 24). Retrieved November 10, 2016, from


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Test Your Knowledge About Athlete's Foot

Click to find out if the statement below is true or false.

#1: Athlete's foot doesn't need treatment.



FALSE: In most cases, athlete's foot will not disappear on its own—in fact, it could spread. Simple contact could spread the fungus to your groin, hands, or other people. Use LamisilAT® products, which are proven to cure most athlete’s foot.

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#2: Only athletes get athlete's foot.



FALSE: Athlete's foot is spread by contact, so anyone can get it. Athletes are more likely to get it because of their lifestyle. However, people who wear protective footwear (like military personnel), people who live in warm climates, and people with diabetes are all at higher risk.

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#3: Moisturizer is a good treatment for athlete's foot.



FALSE: NEVER use moisturizer as the only treatment for athlete's foot! The itch is not from dry skin. Your skin may look dry and cracked because it has a fungal infection. Use the proper treatment that is proven to cure.

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#4: As soon as my symptoms are gone, my athlete's foot is cured.



FALSE: To cure your infection, continue treatment for the entire suggested number of days. Stopping treatment too early can lead to recurring infection.

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#5: Nonmedicated powders do not cure athlete's foot.



TRUE: While nonmedicated foot powders can keep your feet dry and ease some of the itching of athlete's foot, these products do not cure the infection.

Find out more about how to treat athlete's foot.

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