Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Athletes' Feet
08 August 2012

Athletes' Feet

Those warm, moist gaps between your toes and the cosy crevices within wrinkled folds of foot skin are paradise for the tinea pedis fungus – its effects more commonly known as athlete’s foot. Tinea pedis would like nothing more than to settle down to a feast of dead skin on the tired feet of an Olympic athlete. The fungal spores, pictured here in yellow using colour enhanced scanning electron microscopy, lie in wait in damp environments. If facilities are not carefully kept, the fungus could spread via sweaty socks and the soggy floors of changing rooms. Although now relatively easily treated and avoided, athlete’s foot could spell disaster in the pursuit of medals: when the fungus takes hold it can lead to itchy, stinging, skin or oozing and crusty blisters. Not ideal if you’re going for gold.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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