Can You Avoid Athlete's Foot… Or Is It Genetic?

fungal infection risk factors


Athlete’s foot
is a fungal infection that grows between the toes or on the soles of the foot, causing an itchy, burning, red rash to appear. According to the Mayo Clinic, athlete’s foot is “the most common type of fungal infection.” Though it responds well to treatment, athlete’s foot is often recurrent. In fact, the condition is so insidious that it’s cannon fodder for comedians. At the 30th anniversary Just For Laughs show, Chris Rock joked, “Can we cure AIDS? No! We can’t even cure athlete’s foot!”

Is Athlete’s Foot Genetic?

Two separate studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 shed some light on the nature of athlete’s foot infections. Scientists from UCL and Radboud University found that two genetic mutations put individuals at greater risk for contracting athlete’s foot.

“When these two genes are working correctly, Dectin-1 senses the presence of fungi and prompts the immune cells to send signals that result in CARD9 setting off a molecular response in the immune system to protect against these microorganisms,” reports Science Daily. “If Dectin-1 or CARD9 are mutated or missing, the immune system struggles to control Candida and may allow local or even systemic (affecting the entire body) infections to develop.”

Can You Overcome Genetics To Prevent Athlete’s Foot?

“Athlete’s foot is NOT a genetic disease. Athlete’s foot is an infectious disease,” according to, a leading independent source of medical information online. While genetics or a weakened immune system may make a person more likely to suffer the effects of contact with harmful fungus, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence of recurrent infections. Rather than stocking up on Lamisil, a person with genetic links to infection should take preventative measures to protect the feet.

athletes foot prevention

Source: Dr. Torki

“How Can I Prevent Athlete’s Foot?”

The first step toward prevention is understanding how athlete’s foot is contracted. To become infected, your foot or toes must touch an infected surface. Common surfaces where athlete’s foot touches include locker rooms, swimming pools, waterparks, and changing area floors. Pedicure instruments, bed sheets and towels are other methods of transmission. Perhaps one day changing room, spa and waterpark designers will add measures to make surfaces more antimicrobial, but for now we are at their mercy.

An obvious answer seems to be: don’t go barefoot! Water shoes, sandals, and flip-flops should protect you from picking up anything off the ground. Avoid sharing towels or getting pedicures at a spa. Of course, the socks and shoes can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, since they are dark and warm. So, you’ll want to change your socks if they become wet, let your feet air-out at home, and choose breathable shoes.

The Latest Technology Aids In Foot Hygiene.

Up until recently, foot powders were recommended to dry up sweat. Yet, over time, it can be gross to have a mush of gummy powder, dead skin cells and dead bacteria in your shoes. An alternative is to invest in a SteriShoe® shoe sanitizer to kill off up to 99.9% of the bacteria and fungus that lives in footwear. While this will not prevent athlete’s foot, it is a helpful new tool in keeping sanitary shoes for people who suffer from chronic infections.

The product is easy to use. Each night, you simply insert the device into your shoes, hit the “on” button, close the shoes into light-trapping bags, and take the clean shoes out 45 minutes later. The device will automatically turn itself off, so you don’t have to worry about it. If you have any questions about SteriShoe® or athlete’s foot, please contact us directly.

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  1. […] There is no absolute guarantee of preventing a foot condition like MRSA or athlete’s foot, but we can all agree that keeping the foot as bacteria-free as possible is the best hope we have against these terrible infections! […]

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