Can you get athlete's foot anywhere besides your feet?

Lines of Treatment

You can avoid the trials of Trichophyton by following two basic rules: Keep clean and dry, and practice good hygiene. For example:

  • Bathe or shower daily. Follow up with talcum powder, which keeps skin dry.
  • Wear clean clothes, especially socks, stockings and underwear.
  • Wear loosely woven, "breathable" clothes when possible. Check clothing labels for fabrics made with "wicking" microfibers (usually polyester and nylon blends), which draw and disperse moisture from the body to speed evaporation.
  • Avoid sharing shoes, clothing or personal care items, such as combs and bath towels.
  • Wear waterproof sandals or other protective foot gear in public places where bare feet meet -- the health club, the spa, the college dorm showers.
  • If you use a pedicurist, bring your own tools.
  • Keep rooms well-ventilated. Disinfect bathrooms as part of your cleaning routine.

If an infection does set in, over-the-counter sprays, powders or shampoos are the usual first course of treatment. These topical medications combine an antifungal that attacks Trichophyton's cell walls with a cortisone-based drug to ease the inflammation. It often takes several weeks to root out the fungus from all the nooks and crannies.

Studies show that some plant extracts also have antifungal qualities. Ointments containing tea tree oil or ajoene, a sulfuric compound found in garlic, may be helpful.

Complications from ringworm require a doctor's care. The doctor may view skin scrapings under a microscope to make sure Trichophyton is to blame. He or she may prescribe stronger topical antifungals or oral medications, especially for bacterial scalp infections. Antibiotics may also be prescribed. Some oral medications can bring unpleasant side effects, ranging from upset stomach to impaired liver function. Other medication you may be taking will also influence the choice of treatment.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • "Athlete's Foot." July 2, 2008. Accessed May 11, 2010
  • Cornell University. "Riddled with Ringworm?" Accessed May 15, 2010
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, 2010. "Epidermis." Accessed May 18, 2010.
  • "The Skin and Its Cells -- The Horny Layer (Stratum Corneum)." Accessed May 18, 2010
  • ImmunoCAP. "Trichophyton Rubrum." Accessed May 14, 2010
  • Isaac, Susan. "Foot rot of people or Why does 'athlete's foot' itch?" Accessed May 14, 2010
  • "Athlete's Foot." Nov. 22, 2008. Accessed May 13, 2010
  • ----. "Ringworm -- Causes." Jan. 30, 2009. Accessed May 18, 2010
  • MedlinePlus. "Ringworm." US National Library of Medicine/ National Institutes of Health. May 1, 2007. Accessed May 21, 2010
  • Patient UK. "Antifungal Medicines." June 15, 2009. Accessed May 20, 2010
  • University of Michigan Health System. "Tea Tree." Sept. 1, 2007. Accessed May 20, 2010
  • ----. "Garlic." Sept. 1, 2007. Accessed May 20, 2010
  • "Athlete's Foot -- When to Call a Doctor." July 2, 2008. Accessed May 14, 2010
  • Weber, Jeanette. "Clothing: fashion, Fabrics & Construction." Glencoe-McGraw-Hill, 2003.

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