Parkview Health Logo

Athlete's Foot


What is athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot is a rash on the skin of your foot caused by a fungus. It can cause itching, peeling, and cracking on the bottoms of the feet and between the toes.

You can get it by walking barefoot on contaminated surfaces near swimming pools or in locker rooms. After you have had athlete's foot, you're more likely to get it again.

Many times there is no clear reason why you get athlete's foot. You can easily treat athlete's foot by putting medicine on your feet for 1 to 6 weeks. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe pills to kill the fungus.

You can treat most cases of athlete's foot at home with over-the-counter antifungal lotion, cream, or spray. For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antifungal pills or medicine you put on your skin. Use the medicine for as long as your doctor tells you to. Also, keep your feet clean and dry.

What are the symptoms of athlete's foot?

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:

  • Peeling, cracking, and scaling of the feet.
  • Redness, blisters, or softening and breakdown (maceration) of the skin.
  • Itching, burning, or both.

Your symptoms may depend on the type of athlete's foot you have.

  • Toe web infection usually occurs between the fourth and fifth toes. The skin gets scaly, peels, and cracks. If you get a bacterial infection, the skin may break down even more.
  • Moccasin-type infection may start with a little soreness on your foot. Then the skin on your sole or heel may become thick and crack. In severe cases, the toenails get infected.
  • Vesicular infection usually starts with a sudden outbreak of fluid-filled blisters. The blisters are usually on the sole but can appear anywhere on your foot. You may also get a bacterial infection.
Caring for athlete's foot at home
  • Your doctor may suggest an over-the counter lotion or spray or may prescribe a medicine. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • When you get dressed, put your socks on before your underwear. This can prevent the fungus from spreading from your feet to your groin.
Preventing athlete's foot
  • Wear flip-flops or other shower sandals in public locker rooms and showers and by the pool.
  • Dry between your toes after swimming or bathing.
  • Wear leather shoes or sandals, which let air get to your feet.
  • Change your socks as needed so your feet stay as dry as possible.
  • Use antifungal powder on your feet.
Find a provider

We have podiatry experts throughout the region.

See our providers