Jock itch and athlete’s foot: not just for men and the hygiene-challenged

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There’s a fungus amongus.

Lame, I know. But no better way to start a conversation about jock itch and athlete’s foot than with a joke!

Jock itch and athlete’s foot (also known as ‘ringworm’ of the foot) are both fungal infections of the skin that cause scaling, flaking and itching. They are caused by fungi (don’t you love that word? fun-ji? like there’s anything fun about it?) in the genus Trichophyton. Most commonly seen on the foot (it’s typically transmitted in moist areas where people walk barefoot), it can also spread to other areas of the body, including the groin (now called ‘jock itch’).

Now I’ve always thought that jock itch was something only men experienced. After all, they tend not to be as hygience-conscious as us women (although my husband is a 3-showers-a-day kind of guy; go figure) and they have those dangly bits that brush against each other keeping folds of skin moist; the perfect breeding ground for Trichophyton.

But just yesterday, a friend and class participant of mine told me that she had recently been diagnosed with it. The most likely mode of infection? Stepping into clean panties after a shower at the gym. Fungus on the floor may have come into contact with the fabric of her panties via her feet, and presto, a nasty fungal infection of the lady parts. Yikes! Yet another reason to go home for a shower after a workout!

I myself have had athlete’s foot on and off for years. Some weeks it’s worse than others. When it’s really bad, my entire foot (just my left foot, weirdly enough) is scaly and red, with small patches of blisters that itch like the dickens. Especially at night. For some reason, the itching is worse when I’m feeling stressed and during the week before my period arrives. Hmm.

I’ve visited my doctor, repeatedly. He always dishes out the same advice; apply anti-fungal cream twice daily, change your socks and shoes frequently, avoid greasy foot lotions (which may exacerbate the problem) and line your shoes with a fine layer of sweat-absorbing foot powder.

I’ve done it all. Diligently. Repeatedly.

I’ve changed products (there are lots of different products on the market, some just different brands with the same active ingredients, others with different ingredients that might be expected to be better at combatting different species of fungus). I’ve discovered that if you put too much powder in your running shoes before you teach a step class, grape vine will leave you slipping and sliding and landing on your keister (excess powder has a way of whooshing itself through the tiny vents in your shoes!).

jock itch and athlete's foot

Just last week, I switched products again and realized, today, that I haven’t been itchy all week. No fungally-induced insomnia. No weeping blisters. No scaly patches. Is it really gone? (I realize, that just by writing this, I’m daring the fungus gods to inflict on me the worst bout of night scratchies I’ve ever experienced; call me reckless). Only time will tell. (For the record, the active ingredient in the product I’m currently using is tolnaftate 1% USP).

I’ve always been embarrassed to talk about my ‘foot problem’. I don’t do pedicures with the girls, because I don’t want an aesthetician touching my feet. I usually wear shoes that cover my toes and have only recently gotten comfortable going bare foot in yoga (“there is no judgement on the mat”). Perhaps this is the year I wear flip flops with pride!

jock itch and athlete's foot

The best my foot has looked in 8 years!

Have you ever had a bad case of athlete’s foot? (You don’t have to tell me about your experiences with ‘jock itch’!)

What product or products did you use to cure it?

Tell me about your other embarrassing bodily afflictions; education leads to acceptance!

P.S. Thanks B. for suggesting that I write a post about fungus. Hope your itch is gone soon! xoxo

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  1. I already subscribe to your blog so I guess I will get the newsletter too! 🙂

    AH, I have never had athlete’s foot BUT never showered in the gym either! 😉

    On that jock itch, I saw a Dr, Oz that said if a hubby or significant other comes home all UGH & want s to have sex well, he can pass this on.. saw the pics of it – YUCK! So, women beware!!!
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Gratitude Monday, Mom’s Bday, Shoes, HairMy Profile

  2. Morning Jody!
    I rarely use the gym showers, but pinpoint my date of infection to using the hospital showers when my daughter was in hospital for her first heart surgery 9 years ago!

    I think Dr. Oz also suggests that you not share a towel with hubby. Fresh towels every time!

  3. My hubby had problem after problem too until he was diagnosed with Mocassin foot? Instead of topical creams he had to do an oral treatment and his feet have bee much better ever since. he still gets dry patches, but the creams help now, where as before they didn’t do much. Ask your doctor.
    Julia Gabriel recently posted…Alesia’s Story – Making a Difference with Children’s Miracle NetworkMy Profile

    • Julia,
      I have been to see my doctor numerous times. He keeps telling me the same thing. Think I’ll google Mocassin foot! (And I’m on day 10 of my new and improved foot, so here’s hoping that changing the cream really worked!)

  4. Cool, a newsletter! Love your writing style, so you know I’ll signup. 🙂

    I’ve never had an experience with the fungus amongus, but my husband has had the foot action going on. He used foot powder, but I don’t remember the brand.

    Maybe if you let your feet hang out and get air, they’ll get even better.

    Take care,


    • Thanks so much for subscribing Evelyn! Just remember to click ‘confirm subscription’ on the email you were sent. Only required to weed out spammers and autobots!
      I’m using Gold Bond foot powder; just squirted some in my sock before heading out two teach two morning classes! Have a great day!

  5. My son frequently battles juvenile plantar dermatosis which can mimic athlete’s foot but isn’t caused by a fungus–it’s more a consequence of feet being in a moist environment too long (that’s why it’s also called sweaty sock syndrome). It is often confused as athlete’s foot but it is a different condition. One way to tell is that athlete’s foot often involves cracking between the toes, juvenile plantar dermatoses doesn’t.

    Everytime he gets it, we fill his socks with foot powder (Dr. Sholl’s), make sure he changes out of wet socks immediately, and at night apply Aquaphor liberally over his feet. It always clears up nicely but then returns a few months later, so we start the process all over. (I’m in pediatrics, by the way, which is why I know of the condition. I’m not just some weird parent that reads up on feet 🙂 )
    crubin recently posted…Hmm, Did I Write That?My Profile

    • I didn’t know you were in paediatrics; just thought you were a gifted writer!
      Well, I never get cracks between my toes, so maybe I ned a second opinion…
      Certainly, the powder seems to be working (touch wood)…

      • We’ve used antifungal powder with my son, too, because sometimes that’s what we have. It’s the drying factor that’s important for him, but a little anti-fungal will never do a teenage boy’s feet wrong. 🙂 The condition is supposed to improve past puberty, but alas, for my son, it has decided to stick around.

        As for the gifted writer comment–you made my millenium. As my thank you to you, I am now going to go walk briskly on my treadmill while I read. But please ignore the two chocolates I just ate. 🙂
        crubin recently posted…Hmm, Did I Write That?My Profile

        • I’ll ignore the chocolates, if you ignore the two chocolate chip cookies… (there WAS flax seed in them…)

  6. Eeeeewwwwwww. Of course, back in the early 90s I got various foot & toe problems because I was guest teaching in places like Russia, where the showers were not the same as here. I hope your friend recovers quickly.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Women: Health and HumorMy Profile

  7. The pharmacist suggested Desenex, after the others creams did not work. Active ingredient is Undecylenic acid which changes the environment the fungus lives in. Not being a pharmacist, I tried it and am now fairly improved, yet not “cured”.

  8. I so love your post! Thanks for sharing!
    How To Cure Dry Cracked Heels recently posted…Tips on How to Stop Sweaty FeetMy Profile

  9. I’m fairly embarrassed to say that your joke at the start of the post made me laugh 🙂

    Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid using the public showers, especially if I’ve been in the gym at lunch time and need to get back to work quickly, but thankfully I have never had jock itch from this!

    Definitely something to be aware of though! Thanks for the post.