Athlete’s foot is a highly contagious, persistent ailment caused by fungal growth on the feet. The most commonly affected area is between the toes because the warm and humid environment gives fungus a great home.  Getting this foot infection doesn't require you to be a professional athlete or even to be active at all. The fungus that causes athlete's foot likes to hang out in areas often used by athletes, such as showers and locker rooms. Anyone who comes into contact with the fungus can become infected.

Athlete's foot on bottom of foot


The same kind of bugs (fungi) that cause jock itch and ringworm can cause athlete's foot. The organisms develop best in warm, humid environments including wet socks and shoes.

Contagious surfaces like towels, floors, and shoes can spread athlete's foot, in addition to being spread through contact with an infected person. Additionally, if you scratch or pick at the infected areas of your foot, you run the risk of spreading the infection to other regions of your body.

Risk Factors

You are at higher risk of athlete's foot if you:

  • Frequently wear enclosed footwear
  • Sweat heavily
  • Share mats, rugs, bed linens, clothes, or shoes with someone who has a fungal infection
  • Walk barefoot in public areas where the infection can spread, such as locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools, communal baths, and showers

Signs of Athlete's Foot

  • Dry skin
  • Itching
  • Scaling
  • Inflammation
  • Blisters

Athlete's Foot Prevention

The fungus that causes athlete's foot can keep recurring for long periods of time. It is important to seek medical attention for treatment.

To prevent the fungus, good foot hygiene is necessary. Wash feet thoroughly and dry carefully. It is helpful to use foot powder in your shoes daily. For treatment, there are medications that work well to help control fungal infections. If you scratch the itch and then touch other areas of your body, such as your groin (jock itch) or the skin under your arms, athlete's foot may spread. Additionally, it can spread through contaminated bedding or clothing to other areas of your body.


Fungi on Shower Floor

  • Try not to walk barefoot. Wear shower shoes or slippers.
  • Wear leather or canvas shoes that allow air circulation. Avoid rubber or plastic shoes.
  • If you sweat heavily, change to a different pair of shoes daily.
  • Wear socks to keep your feet dry and change them often.
  • Avoid sharing shoes or trying on shoes with bare feet.
  • Change linens between guests and often after treating a fungal infection.


Athlete's foot is generally treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications and simple good hygiene. Wear clean socks or stockings every day, wash and dry your feet (especially in between the toes), and avoid wearing the same shoes every day so they have time to thoroughly dry before being worn again. Put antifungal powder or spray in your shoes and on your feet daily. Sprays and lotions with antifungal properties are also useful for treating the condition. After the infection has cleared, continue your medication for one to two weeks to avoid a recurrence. We offer all of the treatment options you need in our office store. 


Treat Your Athlete’s Foot

Grandville Foot and Ankle serves patients from Grandville, Jenison, Hudsonville, Georgetown, Zeeland, Grand Rapids, Caledonia, Kentwood, Lowell, and throughout Michigan. Contact us to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sarah Stewart.