Athleteʹs Foot

Causes of Athleteʹs Foot

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is a mold-like strain that is very contagious and is most often picked up from going barefooted in places where people with the fungus have walked or stood (for example, swimming pools, showers, bathrooms, saunas, fitness centers, locker rooms).

How it Spreads

Athleteʹs foot can be spread by skin-to-skin contact between people and even between people and household pets. People with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to athleteʹs foot and other fungal infections.

Notably, the fungus thrives in dark, moist environments such as those created by thick, tight shoes that squeeze the toes together and create warm, moist areas between them. Damp footwear and warm, humid conditions also promote fungal growth; plastic shoes in particular provide a favorable environment for fungal growth and infection. The fungus can live in footwear and on surfaces of mats, rugs, clothes and linens for up to six months.

More About Athleteʹs Foot

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