Athlete's Foot

This is a fungal infection on a foot or both feet. It is also known as tinea pedis.

This is a fungal infection on a foot or both feet. It is also known as tinea pedis.

Athlete's foot is an infection on a foot or both feet that is caused by a fungus. It often affects the skin between the toes, but it can also be found on other parts of the foot and between the fingers. The fungus that causes athlete's foot, tinea pedis, is one of the most common “tinea” infections. It usually occurs in warm, moist places on the body. The risk of catching athlete's foot increases if you wear shoes that are closed or lined with plastic, your feet sweat a lot or are wet for long periods, or you have an injury to the skin or nails on your feet.

  • Other fungal infections, such as jock itch or ringworm, can be present the same time as athlete's foot.

Athlete's foot is contagious. You can catch it by direct contact or by touching a contaminated surface, such as a shoe, sock, shower floor, or pool. Preventive measures include keeping your feet dry, wearing sandals in public pools or showers, and wearing shoes that are well ventilated (especially if you are prone to the infection). The main symptoms of athlete's foot include:

  • Skin on your feet that is cracked and peels or flakes off
  • Skin on your feet that is red, itchy, and burns or stings
  • Blisters on your feet that are moist and then crust over

If your toenails are affected, they can become thick and discolored.

Before you see a healthcare provider for your athlete's foot, there are some things you can try at home. These include:

  • Always keeping your feet dry and clean
  • Wearing socks that are made of cotton
  • Making sure your socks are always clean and dry
  • Using over-the-counter antifungal creams or powders

Athlete's foot can come back, so you should continue your treatment for at least a week after your symptoms end. If your athlete's foot persists for more than 2 to 4 weeks, or keeps coming back, then you may need to see a healthcare provider for evaluation and further treatment.

While athlete's foot can go away with self-care, there may be times you need to see a healthcare provider for further treatment. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you've had them.

  • Before your appointment, make a list of your medical history, including past illnesses, surgeries and hospitalizations; your medications (including over-the-counter); and any questions or concerns you want to discuss.
  • During your appointment, ask about your overall health, what symptoms you might have, when you may start to see improvement; what the follow-up plans are, if any; and what symptoms you should report before your next appointment.
  • After your appointment, you should know your diagnosis, what tests you might need, the reason for those tests, and if the test results will change your treatment plan. You should also understand your treatment plan, any possible alternatives, and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects or precautions).
  • If your healthcare provider wants you to take a medication, ask if an over-the-counter product is right for you.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).


Also known as:

Ringworm of Feet
Fungal Infection of Feet
Athlete's Foot
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