Athlete's foot fungus can live on a towel or a shoe indefinitely provided the conditions are right. According to Medical News Today, athlete's foot ringworm of the foot is a fungal infection of the upper skin of the feet.
The fungus thrives in warm and moist conditions such as on towels, shoes and bathroom floors. It is also present on normal skin, but it does not cause an infection unless the skin is consistently moist and warm. The infection can also occur in other parts of the body such as the groin and armpits, according to WebMD. It presents with an itch, which is followed by flaking of the itching areas. The affected areas then crack and become scaly.