Science Questions

Why is athlete's foot only found in feet?

Tue, 29th May 2012

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Making a Meal out of Microbes


Paul in Peterborough asked:

Why is athleteís foot just on the feet? Why do they just live there?Ē


Chris -  Microbes have their own niche.  There are certain places on the body where they like to be- they're optimised to grow in those places. Feet are wonderful.  They have dead skin which serves as protein, lots of sweat, and itís warm, and itís protected, and itís easy to spread around because you have to put your feet on the ground when you walk about.


Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

It isn't.
The same fungus is happy to live elsewhere on the body if it gets a chance.
It prefers damp conditions and feet are often a very suitable place for it. Bored chemist, Tue, 29th May 2012

One can get yeast/fungal infections in other parts of the body, but it is a different species of yeast, such as Candidiasis sometimes found under breasts, or Tinea corporis found around various parts of the body.

Athlete's foot, or Tinea pedis may in fact be exclusively found on feet (in "normal" individuals).  There may be certain immune deficiency states that could cause it to infect other parts of the body.

Many organisms have very specific targets, as well as specific hosts.  Athlete's foot, or Tinea pedis seems to like the moist, protected area between toes and is transmitted in shower floors.

Certainly feet, shoes, and socks can get a very specific odor.  Perhaps there are other aspects specific to the feet too. CliffordK, Tue, 29th May 2012

I'm pretty sure it is the same species of trichophyton fungus that causes both athletes foot and jock itch and similar superficial skin fungal infections like that. Candida yeast prefer moister mucus membranes like the throat, vagina, or diaper rash in babies. cheryl j, Wed, 30th May 2012

The extremely handsome Geezer feet were prone to emanate some fairly remarkable odors. However, I discovered that by wearing the thick and comfy socks that are made with a very high cotton content, the pong is virtually eliminated.

Presumably this is because the cotton tends to wick away the moisture, thereby keeping the tootsies nice and dry.
Geezer, Wed, 30th May 2012

I see a couple of notes indicating that Athletes foot can spread from the toes to the groin, although I still wonder if the two are commonly separate infections.

CliffordK, Wed, 30th May 2012

Stone me!!!

Are you suggesting I've got Athlete's Nose?

Noses run in our family.  Don_1, Wed, 30th May 2012

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society