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Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a rash on the skin of the foot. It's the most common skin infection caused by a fungus. Athlete's foot can cause itching, peeling, and cracking on the bottoms of the feet and between the toes.
You can get athlete's foot by touching the foot of a person who has it. Most often, people get it by walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces near swimming pools or in locker rooms. The fungi then grow in your shoes, especially if your shoes are tight and air can't move around your feet.
Symptoms of athlete's foot vary from person to person. Some people have severe discomfort, while others have few or no symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
Your symptoms may depend on the type of athlete's foot you have.
A doctor can usually tell if you have athlete's foot by looking at your feet. He or she will also ask about your symptoms and any past fungal infections you've had. If your symptoms are unusual or treatment didn't help before, your doctor may take a skin or nail sample to test for fungi.
Treatment for athlete's foot depends on its type and severity. Most cases can be treated at home with antifungal medicines. They kill the fungus or slow its growth. You also need to keep your feet clean and dry.
Over-the-counter antifungal lotions, creams, or sprays usually are used first. These include clotrimazole (Lotrimin) and tolnaftate (Tinactin).
Prescription antifungals may be tried if nonprescription medicines don't help. Some prescription antifungals are put directly on the skin. Others are taken as a pill.
If you have a severe infection that doesn't improve, your doctor may prescribe antifungal pills. They are used only for severe cases.
You can usually treat athlete's foot at home by using nonprescription medicines and taking care of your feet. But if you have diabetes and get athlete's foot, or if you have infections that are severe or long-lasting or that keep coming back, see your doctor.
Here are some things you can do to help treat and prevent athlete's foot.
Don't use this type of cream on a fungal infection, unless your doctor prescribes it.
If you have a vesicular (blister) infection, soak your foot in Burow's solution several times a day. Do this for 3 or more days until the blister fluid is gone. After the fluid is gone, use an antifungal cream as directed. You can also apply compresses using Burow's solution.
Wear them in public pools and showers.
Current as of:
March 3, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Patrice Burgess MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineElizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal MedicineEllen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
Current as of: March 3, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine & Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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