Athletes’ feet are a skin disorder caused by a fungus. The fungal infection is caused by the dermatophyte fungi Trombicula paucipens. The fungi are transferred from person to person by direct contact. The condition is commonly found among people who wear shoes that allow the fungus to grow and spread. Athlete’s foot fungi thrive in warm, moist areas, such as between the toes or in the spaces of tight-fitting shoes.
A fungus on the feet will spread to other body parts, including between fingers and toes or around nails. The athlete’s foot fungus can affect the hands, feet, and nails even if they aren’t exposed to moisture. Since the symptom depends on the type of athlete’s foot fungus, your doctor needs to diagnose the exact type.
Below are the different types of athlete’s foot and the symptom of each type.
1. Toe web infection
The most common type of athlete’s foot is characterized by skin irritation between the toes. The fungus can flourish particularly on the toenails, which may contain black tips. The symptoms are redness and scaling on the soles of the feet, particularly between the toes. Symptoms may only appear once you have been wearing infected shoes for some time. Skin color change, cracks, and peel may be symptoms of this type.
2. Toenail infection
This condition is characterized by a black or red discoloration between the nails and the toenails. Some people may have white spots around their fingernails and toenails. The fingernail infection may also cause pain when changing socks or shoes, indicating fungus is growing under your nail beds and spreading upward under your skin.
3. Vesicular infection
This infection occurs when the fungus damages the skin and produces vesicles. The vesicles are tiny blisters less than 1 cm in size that forms on skin surfaces. It is common on feet, hands, and arms but can also appear on other body parts. Vesicular athlete’s foot is not contagious since it occurs due to the use of dirty shoes, towels or socks, etc.
4. Moccasin-type infection
This infection affects the soles of the feet, particularly between the toes. It is characterized by thick skin growth between your toes, which may be very tender. Look for cracks, blisters, and open sores filled with a white, greenish, or yellowish substance. They are usually small and appear on your heel or toe if you walk barefoot.
5. Ulcerative infection
This infection is characterized by pain and cracks on the soles of your feet. The cracks or sores may bleed, ooze pus when injured, or remain open. This type of infection usually affects feet that had an athlete’s foot before, and it is not common in new cases of infection. Ulcerative athlete’s foot is also not contagious like the other types of athlete’s feet. Symptoms of this type of athletic foot fungus include red, scaling, and cracking of the skin. Blisters also develop in some cases. Redness may also be present on the scalp.
Athletes’ foot is contagious and should be treated for the good of others. It is transmitted easily through direct contact with infected skin, such as through shared towels, washcloths, socks, shoes, etc.