Do you suffer from itching, burning, dry, and flaking feet? Do you notice a rash on the bottom of your foot, between your toes or along the sides of your feet? Do you have fissures or cracks in the skin? It could be athlete's foot.

Athlete's foot, also known as tinea pedis, is an infection of the skin by fungus or yeast.

You can contact a fungus in shower floors, gyms, other people's socks and shoes, and anywhere you are barefoot. It's commonly found in public changing areas and bathrooms, dormitory style living quarters, around locker rooms and public swimming pools.

Athlete's foot is most often caused by the same fungus that causes ringworm (tinea). It can be spread by direct contact with an infected body part, contaminated clothing, or by coming in contact with other objects or body parts that have been exposed to the fungus. Although the feet are more frequently assumed to get athlete's foot, tinea can invade other parts of the body as well so long as the proper growing conditions are met.

Tinea thrives in a dark, warm, and moist environment. Body parts that are often infected include the hands, groin, and scalp. Although many people never experience athlete's foot, around 70% of the population suffers from tinea at some point in their lifetime. Like most ailments, some people are more likely to acquire this fungal infection than others. People with a history of tinea or other skin infections are more likely to suffer from recurrent, or even additional, unrelated infections. The extent to which a person is tormented by the fungus can vary greatly . If you have any suspicious rash, cracked skin or itching areas of your feet, consult your podiatrist.

While some people are never even be aware that they have been infected with athlete's foot, others are pestered with mild to moderate symptoms like dry and flaking skin, itching, and redness. Still others are bothered by more severe symptoms including cracked and bleeding skin, intense itching and burning, and even pain when walking. By scratching itchy areas, you can get a secondary bacterial infection as well. It is best to get an exam.

The treatment for athlete's foot may be as simple as a topical cream or oral antifungal medications. Changes in the environment infected with athlete's foot can prevent spreading. Keeping the area that is infected clean and dry with the use of medications is imperative for about 2weeks depending on the spread and type of infection. They can be treated by topical medication, oral medication, laser therapy, surgery or combinations of these treatments.

Allowing the area to breathe is important in the treatment as well. Treating the infected area with miconazole, tolnaftate, or other medicated creams, ointments, or sprays not only helps to kill the fungus, but helps prevent recurrences as well.
Seeing a podiatrist is often a good idea when treating athlete's foot, since more often than not, other skin infections can develop from the initial infection, and recurrences are common.