Your Feet: Home to Lots of Fungus

New study finds nearly 200 different types of fungi on feet

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted May 23, 2013 11:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you always thought feet were kind of gross, you were right: There are almost 200 different types of fungi living on them, a new study finds. In fact, though fungi live all over your skin, they most like to congregate on the heel (home to 80 different types), between toes (60), and underneath toenails (40), the BBC reports. The US government study is the first to catalog the fungi that hang out on our body, sequencing the DNA of fungi from 10 adults. Fungi are typically harmless, and some are even beneficial, but some can cause disease (and they also "help to make your feet stinky," says a researcher).

Other popular locations for fungi: palm, forearm, inner elbow (18-32 different types each). Fungi were also found in or around nostrils, ears, scalps, hands, and—though these were not-so-hot spots—the head and trunk. Researchers wanted to get establish a "baseline" for healthy adults, and they hope the study will help combat athlete's foot and other fungal skin problems. Why are feet so popular with fungi? It probably has something to do with temperature, NBC News reports. The bottom line? "Wear your flip-flops in locker rooms," says the lead researcher.

  (Shutterstock)
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