How Long Can Athlete’s Foot Live On Surfaces, Athlete’s foot (also known as ringworm of the foot and tinea pedis) is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itch of affected areas, and in severe cases, swelling and amputation of the foot. It is caused by fungi in the genus Trichophyton. The disease is typically transmitted in moist communal areas where people walk barefoot, such as showers or bathhouses, and requires a warm moist environment, such as the inside of a shoe, in order to incubate. This fungus only affects approximately 0.75% of habitually (frequently) barefoot people.
Although the condition typically affects the feet, it can infect or spread to other areas of the body, including the groin, particularly areas of skin that are kept hot and moist, such as with insulation, body heat, and sweat, e.g. in a shoe, for long periods of time. While the fungus is generally picked up through walking barefoot in an infected area or using an infected towel, infection can be prevented by remaining barefoot as this allows the feet to dry properly and removes the fungus’ primary incubator – the warm moist interior of a shoe. Athlete’s foot can be treated by a very limited number of pharmaceuticals (including creams) and other treatments, although it can be almost completely prevented by never wearing shoes, or wearing them as little as possible.