Fungal Infections & Socks

Fungal Infections & Socks

Socks harbouring Fungal spores


Fungus has been shown to remain in 36% of socks washed at 40 degrees.

Washing at 60 degrees showed 6% remaining with fungal spores.

Socks containing the dermatophyte Trichophyton Rubrum showed 10% could contaminate clean laundry within 1 hour.



The warm and dark environment of shoes and especially trainers provide a breeding ground for microorganisms to thrive such as fungal infections.   Socks can play a vital role as a barrier and a transmission vehicle of infection from the shoes, socks or reinfection.The hands and feet have the highest density of sweat glands in the body.Everybody sweats. Sweating is a normal, essential bodily function. Its main purpose is to cool your body off when it’s in danger of overheating. But like nearly every other bodily function, it’s possible to sweat too much.They secrete all the time, not just in response to heat or exercise, like elsewhere in the body.During physical activity this is estimated to be as high as 200cm3/h.

Tinea pedis also known as Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin which is one of the most common skin infections. The most common causes of this infection are Trichophyton Rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.  

Fungal organisms have been shown to survive a long time in socks worn by people with infection.

Research shows that  socks can harbour fungal pathogens and contribute to reinfection.

Effects of Washing socks & Fungus

It has been shown contaminated socks washed in a domestic washing machine at 40deg, with 36% of the socks still positive for fungal culture at the end of cleaning  and drying cycle.

When the washing was repeated at 60degrees only 6% tested for fungus.

A further study showed socks containing the dermatophyte Trichophyton Rubrum showed 10% could contaminate clean laundry within 1hour

Top Tips:

1.  Wash socks at 60 degrees if you have or had a fungal infection
2. Consider socks containing anti-microbial fibres
3.Consider changing your socks throughout the day if your feet are sweaty
4. Treat existing fungal infections. 


Broughton, R. Reinfection from socks and shoes in Tinea Pedis. Br J Dermatol. 1955; 67. 249.

Lacroix et al. Tinea Pedis in European Marathon runners, J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2002; 16; 132-42.

Hammer T.R. et al. Infection Risk by Dermatophytes during storage and after domestic laundry and their temperature-dependant inactivation. Mycopathologia. 2011; 171:43-9.



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February 10, 2020 Lumps, Bumps & Skin lesions, Skin , , ,
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