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Hygiene-related Diseases

Athlete’s Foot (tinea pedis)

Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is an infection of the skin and feet that can be caused by a variety of different fungi. Although tinea pedis can affect any portion of the foot, the infection most often affects the space between the toes. Athlete’s foot is typically characterized by skin fissures or scales that can be red and itchy.

Tinea pedis is spread through contact with infected skin scales or contact with fungi in damp areas (for example, showers, locker rooms, swimming pools) (1). Tinea pedis can be a chronic infection that recurs frequently (2). Treatment may include topical creams (applied to the surface of the skin) or oral medications (3).

Appropriate hygiene techniques may help to prevent or control tinea pedis. The following hygiene techniques should be followed:

Prevention of athlete’s foot:

  • Nails should be clipped short and kept clean. Nails can house and spread the infection.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms or public showers (wear sandals).

For control of athlete’s foot infection, persons with active tinea pedis infection should:

  • Keep feet clean, dry, and cool.
  • Avoid using swimming pools, public showers, or foot baths.
  • Wear sandals when possible or air shoes out by alternating them every 2-3 days.
  • Avoid wearing closed shoes and wearing socks made from fabric that doesn’t dry easily (for example, nylon).
  • Treat the infection with recommended medication.

For more information on fungal skin infections, visit CDC’s dermatophytes page.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics Redbook. 2006 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 27th edition.
  2. Gupta A et al. Optimal Management of Fungal Infections of the Skin, Hair, and Nail. Am J Clin Dermatol 2004;5(4):225-237.
  3. Gupta A et al. Treatments of tinea pedis. Dermatol Clin 2003;21:431-463.
 
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