Athlete's Foot - Causes
Athlete's foot is caused by a fungal infection that occurs most frequently between the fourth and fifth toes. The fungi that cause the disease are unusual in that they live exclusively on dead body tissue, such as dead skin and nails. These fungi grow best in moist, damp, dark places with poor ventilation. For that reason, athlete's foot is less common among people who go barefoot.
Many people carry the fungus that causes athlete's foot on their skin. The fungus becomes active, however, only when conditions are right. Many people believe that the fungus is very contagious. But that does not seem to be the case. Research shows that it is difficult to pick up the infection by simply walking barefoot on a damp floor that contains the fungus. Scientists do not know exactly why some people develop the disease and others do not.
Other factors can contribute to the growth of the athlete's foot fungus. These include sweaty feet, tight shoes, socks that do not absorb moisture, a warm climate, and inadequate drying of the feet after swimming or bathing.