Athletes foot

What is Foot fungus?

It starts with a seemingly harmless itch between your fingers and starts to annoy you. The itch gets worse and you can’t bear it anymore. You’re probably having what is known as Athlete’s foot, a very common foot skin infection caused by fungus. That fungus is called Trichophyton.

Athlete’s foot and Why they call it that way.

Athlete’s foot is a commonly occurring skin condition that usually affects our feet and toenails. You may not even know it’s there until either it gets worse or you get the affected area have it checked for culture growth until lab results confirm that. This discomforting condition is caused by a fungus that is scientifically called Trichophyton. The reason it started to be referred as Athlete’s foot was because mostly this condition would affect sportsmen whenever their feet or other spots of their body would stay warm, wet, and get irritated due to sweat. So it turns out Trichophyton is a type of fungus that actually thrives in that kind of environment making it easier to penetrate the higher layers of our skin. This seemingly harmless fungal infection can take place on almost any part of our body: that includes the scalp, arms and legs, feet, hands, nails especially toenails, groin area where most of the friction and moist take place and even our mouth.

So how does this infection progress to Athlete’s foot? It’s actually a result of infection by ringworm fungus also known as tinea corporis and the condition might be referred as tinea pedis among medical circles.

Ringworm is a dermatophyte type of infection. Dermatophytes are known as fungi that attack and feed on dead keratin, the upper layer of the epidermis. These are commonly known ringworm fungus:

Microsporum canis

Trichophyton rubrum

Trichophyton mentagrophytes

These fungi are mostly present in tropical environment as well as on floors in gyms, swimming pools, changing rooms, nail salons, in our clothing especially socks. So if you notice these locations have one thing in common: there’s moist, wetness, and crowd. These are pretty much ideal for ringworm fungus to thrive. Since the fungus is actually contagious most individuals get this fungus on their feet from sharing slippers, sandals or walking barefoot on places where someone else who had athlete’s foot walked. Once it was famously known as “jungle rot” by soldiers during Vietnam war times as they had to endure their feet in army boots creating ideal environment and being easily prone to such type of fungal infections.

It is estimated that up to 70% of our population may acquire athlete’s foot at some time during their lives.