Athlete’s Foot On Hands

Athlete's foot on hands is known as tinea manuum. It’s a rare condition that can spread from the foot to the palm of the hand. Contact with an infected person, animals, household items or clothing can be contagious. Over-the-counter treatments are available, but individuals with weakened immune systems or other health conditions need to see a doctor at once.

What is athlete's foot on hands?

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection, affecting the top layers of skin. It’s rare for the infection to spread to the hands (tinea manuum), but it happens. Tinea manuum's fungi is called dermatophytes.

The technical term for tinea is ringworm, characterized by the round shape or form of the infection. It starts as a small patch on the palm of the hands working itself to the sides of the fingers. Fungal infections rarely spread to layers below the skin’s surface. Both men and women of all ages can be infected. Because young animals like kittens or puppies are carriers of this infection, children are more prone to the condition.

  • Tinea manuum can be misdiagnosed for other skin conditions that affect the hands.
  • Patients experience flaking skin accompanied with a burning itch and inflammation.
  • It is contagious and can be passed from one person to another.

Although this condition develops on the skin, there are circumstances where the fungus can affect the nails. In these cases, the fingernails thicken, and overtime may harden and crack.

What causes athlete's foot on hands?

Fungus is the culprit. The fungal infection is caused by a mold parasite that lives on the outer layer of the skin cells. Personal hygiene and lifestyles contribute to the development of tinea manuum. Most incidents happen from scratching itchy toes causing the fungi infection to spread to the hands.

Risk of infection increase under these conditions:

  • Humid and warm climates or contaminated environments
  • Wearing tight or restrictive clothing
  • Health conditions affecting the immune system
  • Animals

Symptoms of athlete's foot on hands

Tinea manuum is a rash that starts on the palm of the hand. It can spread to the fingers and the back of the hand. The infection tends to develop on a single hand. But it’s not uncommon for the infection to develop on both hands when unprotected contact occurs. As the infection develops, the skin dries causing a gradual separation of the skin layers. It can also appear in the form of ringworm.

  • Scaly skin is associated with human contact
  • Ringworm appearance is linked to animal or contaminated soil contact.
  • Blisters may form, filled with a clear, sticky fluid.
  • The skin may change colors during the infection and treatment process.

Tinea manuum will spread if left untreated. Bacterial infections can occur when the skin is broken, or open sores develop. It’s important to talk with a doctor to make sure you are treating this condition correctly.

  • Dermatophytes (tinea manuum fungi) can cause allergic reactions in some individuals – separate from the infection.

Other skin conditions may share similar symptoms:

  • Hand dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Exfoliative keratolysis

How to treat athlete's foot on hands

During the examination, the doctor may use a microscope to look for traits associated with tinea manuum. The doctor will send a scraping (culture) from the infected area to the lab. Both verifications help with determining the proper treatment of the infection.

Topical antifungals (ointments or gels) are used to kill the fungi when applied to the affected skin. Antifungals are part of two pharmacological groups – azoles and allylamines. Topicals contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. They work by preventing the growth of fungus.

  • Be sure to wear disposal gloves.
  • Clean and dry the area before applying the medication.
  • Apply enough to cover the infected area.

Depending on the severity of the condition, over-the-counter medications may be prescribed along with pharmacy prescriptions. Treatment is a 4-week course. The infection’s seriousness and your health may cause doctors to recommend continuing for a 5th week.

Apply the medication twice a day or as directed by your doctor. If you are using over-the-counter medications, read the label and instructions before applying this treatment. If you use a spray, be sure to shake the container well before applying. Continue using the prescription until the medication is finished.

Do not cover or bandage the infection unless your doctor has instructed you to do so. Do not apply more than directed, it will not heal the condition faster. It may have side effects leading to more serious health conditions. During treatment, individuals or caretakers should use these precautions:

  • Keep your hands clean and dry.
  • Avoid skin-to-skin contact.

If the condition does not improve within a month, the doctor may prescribe oral antifungals. Be sure to tell your doctor about any drugs or medications you are taking now because drug interactions may occur. It’s important to talk with the doctor if you experience any reaction during treatment.

Storage and handling

  • Keep all medicines out of reach of children, elderly adults and animals.
  • Store medication in a cool, dry place away from direct heat or light.
  • Discard outdated or unused portions properly.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is tinea manuum contagious?

Coming in contact with the infection will cause it to spread.

2. Do I need to see a doctor?

Left untreated the condition can worsen and lead to open sores allowing bacterial growth. If the condition persists, see a doctor.

3. Can athlete’s foot spread to other body parts?

Skin to skin contact, sharing towels or exposure to contaminated environments are contagious for spreading the infection.

4. Are animal's carriers of this infection and how is it transmitted?

Any form of contact like petting can increase the risks of infection to humans.

5. I have skin allergies, am I more susceptible to getting this infection?

Individuals with existing health conditions such as allergies or a weakened immune system are at greater risk.

6. I naturally sweat more than other individuals, does this affect my chances of tinea manuum?

Skin infections thrive in heat and moisture. Persons with excessive sweat are more likely to experience skin infections.

7. How common is tinea manuum?

This form of skin infection is less common than the other forms.