Can You Get Athlete’s Foot on Your Hands?

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Athlete’s foot is so well-known that most of us have seen at least one commercial for a product that treats it. Despite its name, though, you don’t have to be particularly athletic to get it. You don’t even have to step foot in a gym. It’s a contagious infection, so you can get it from contact with an infected person or in any warm and humid environment, like the communal bathrooms in dorms.

However, that’s not the only kind of fungal skin infection you can get. For example, you might have gotten a weird rash on your hand or fingers before and wondered if you can get athlete’s “hand.” The answer is: basically.

The phrase we use for a fungal skin infection on the hands or fingers is tinea mannum (or manus), whereas athlete’s foot is tinea pedis. However, they’re essentially the same infection. They both cause your skin to turn red and irritated, becoming itchy and peeling. In addition, fungus is the cause for both.

However, not all hand infections are tinea manus. Another common infection is dermatitis, a general skin inflammation. If your infection seems unbearably itchy and/or it doesn’t go away with over-the-counter treatment, it’s worth consulting a doctor to see if it’s dermatitis. However, it’s easy to treat at home.

Despite the fact that over-the-counter antifungal creams don’t usually mention tinea manus, they can be used for them. If you look closely at the labels, you’ll see that they’re indicated for multiple types of fungal skin infections. Brand names will vary, but two of the most common active ingredients are clotrimazole and tolnaftate. You should try to keep your hands as clean and dry as possible. For example, if you hand-wash dishes, make sure to wear gloves. After bathing, showering, or washing your hands, dry your hands thoroughly.

To use the creams, apply as directed to the affected areas. It may be most helpful to apply it just before bed, since it can be messy or have a medicinal odor. You may also want to use a non-medicated hand cream at other times since your hands  are likely dry. Treatment can take up to two weeks. If you haven’t seen improvement in that time and you’ve been applying the cream regularly, don’t be afraid to try a cream with another active ingredient.

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