If you’ve ever spent time where your feet get exposed to other people’s foot water, whether it’s in a high school gym class or your local swimming pool, the possibility of catching athlete’s foot has probably crossed your mind. And if you’ve ever caught it, you’ve also probably wondered if it’s possible to get it on your hands (or at least if you haven’t, you have now). Short answer? Yes. Here’s the lowdown on that and four other myths and facts you probably didn’t know about Athlete’s Foot.
Fact: You can catch Athlete’s Foot on your hands (and other places too).
Yeah, you can totally catch athlete’s foot on your hands. Except when you do, it’s not called athlete’s foot anymore – primarily because it’s not on your feet now. It is now called Tinea manuum, or “ringworm of the hands.”
You can also spread Athlete’s Foot to other places. If you transfer the fungus from your feet to your crotch, you get jock itch, or Tinea cruris. You can also spread it to your scalp (Tinea capitis), your face (Tinea faciei), or anywhere on your body (Tinea corpora).
Myth: Athlete’s Foot goes away on its own.
Athlete’s foot doesn’t just go away. Because it’s a fungal infection, you need to actively kill it before it gets worse and spreads (see above). In order to kill it, you should use either an over-the-counter treatment or one prescribed by your doctor. In extreme cases, topical ointment won’t cut it and you’ll need to take pills to fight of the infections
Fact: Athlete’s Foot (or any fungal infection) has nothing to do with overall hygiene.
It’s easy to think that if someone has any sort of fungal infection that they aren’t keeping themselves clean. But fungi thrive on warm moist environments. So taking a lot of showers and not drying off completely is their idea of a great time. Just because you have a Tinea infection doesn’t mean you’re a slob.
Myth: Cotton socks are best for preventing Athlete’s Foot
Cotton is the worst material to wear when you’ve got athlete’s foot. Ask any snowboarder or skier how cotton is when it comes to sweaty feet. They will tell you: cotton socks are awful when your feet get wet. Cotton sucks up the moisture and holds on to it, keeping your feet moist and warm. That’s a haven for the fungus infesting you. The best socks are synthetics that wick moisture away from your sweaty toes and keeps them dry.
Fact: Shower Shoes are not 100% effective in preventing Athlete’s Foot
While the most common way you pick up the fungus that causes athlete’s foot is by walking barefoot in the locker room or around the pool, that isn’t the only way. You can also get it by sharing a towel with someone who has it or by borrowing their shower shoes or socks. The lesson? Don’t share stuff with your friends, unless you really want to share stuff.
Athlete’s foot is no joke. The fungus among us that causes this itchy annoyance can be transferred from person to person or even from place to place easily if you aren’t careful. The best way to keep that “fun guy” away is to keep your feet dry and let them air out when you don’t have to wear shoes. Your roommates might not appreciate it, but your feet will.
LowestMed’s Health Information Center is meant for educational purposes and is not intended for medical advice. If you would like to recommend any story ideas, feel free to contact us.