Learn About Athlete's Foot

What is the definition of Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot is an infection of the feet caused by fungus. The medical term is tinea pedis or ringworm of the foot.

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What are the alternative names for Athlete's Foot?

Tinea pedis; Fungal infection - feet; Tinea of the foot; Infection - fungal - feet; Ringworm - foot

What are the causes of Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot occurs when a certain fungus grows on the skin of your feet. The same fungus may also grow on other parts of the body. However, the feet are most commonly affected, especially between the toes.

Athlete's foot is the most common type of tinea infection. The fungus thrives in warm, moist areas. Your risk for getting athlete's foot increases if you:

  • Wear closed shoes, especially if they are plastic-lined
  • Keep your feet wet for long periods
  • Sweat a lot
  • Develop a minor skin or nail injury

Athlete's foot is easily spread. It can be passed through direct contact or contact with items such as shoes, stockings, and shower or pool surfaces.

What are the symptoms of Athlete's Foot?

The most common symptom is cracked, flaking, peeling skin between the toes or on the side of the foot. Other symptoms can include:

  • Red and itchy skin
  • Burning or stinging pain
  • Blisters that ooze or get crusty

If the fungus spreads to your nails, they can become discolored, thick, and even crumble.

Athlete's foot may occur at the same time as other fungal or yeast skin infections such as jock itch.

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What are the current treatments for Athlete's Foot?

Over-the-counter antifungal powders or creams can help control the infection:

  • These contain medicine such as miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, or tolnaftate.
  • Keep using the medicine for 1 to 2 weeks after the infection has cleared to prevent it from returning.

In addition:

  • Keep your feet clean and dry, especially between your toes.
  • Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water and dry the area carefully and completely. Try to do this at least twice a day.
  • To widen and keep the web space (area between the toes) dry, use lamb's wool. This can be bought at a drugstore.
  • Wear clean cotton socks. Change your socks and shoes as often as needed to keep your feet dry.
  • Wear sandals or flip-flops at a public shower or pool.
  • Use antifungal or drying powders to prevent athlete's foot if you tend to get it often, or you frequent places where athlete's foot fungus is common (like public showers).
  • Wear shoes that are well-ventilated and made of natural material such as leather. It may help to alternate shoes each day, so they can completely dry between wearings. Do not wear plastic-lined shoes.

If athlete's foot does not get better in 2 to 4 weeks with self-care, or frequently returns, see your provider. Your provider may prescribe:

  • Antifungal medicines to take by mouth
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections that occur from scratching
  • Topical creams that kill the fungus
Who are the top Athlete's Foot Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

Mount Sinai Health System

Physician Skin Care

1169 Eastern Pkwy 
Louisville, KY 40217

Leon Kircik is a Dermatologist in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Kircik has been practicing medicine for over 33 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Athlete's Foot. He is also highly rated in 19 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Acne, Athlete's Foot, Pustular Psoriasis, and Plaque Psoriasis. He is licensed to treat patients in Kentucky. Dr. Kircik is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in

Tokyo Women's Medical University

Shinanozaka Clinic 
Tokyo, JP 

Yuichiro Tsunemi is in Tokyo, Japan. Tsunemi is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Athlete's Foot. They are also highly rated in 6 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Athlete's Foot, Ringworm, Fungal Nail Infection, and Candida Infection of the Skin.

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Highly rated in
Podiatric Medicine

Temple University Health System

Temple University School Of Podiatric Medicine - Foot And Ankle Institute

148 N 8th St 
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Tracey Vlahovic is a Podiatric Medicine doctor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Vlahovic has been practicing medicine for over 22 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Athlete's Foot. She is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Fungal Nail Infection, Athlete's Foot, and Plaque Psoriasis. She is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot almost always responds well to self-care, although it may come back. Long-term medicine and preventive measures may be needed. The infection can spread to the toenails.

When should I contact a medical professional for Athlete's Foot?

Call your provider right away if:

  • Your foot is swollen and warm to the touch, especially if there are red streaks or pain. These are signs of a possible bacterial infection. Other signs include pus, drainage, and fever.
  • Athlete's foot symptoms do not go away within 2 to 4 weeks of self-care treatments.
Athlete's foot - tinea pedis
What are the latest Athlete's Foot Clinical Trials?
Glucosamine Sulphate and Ginkgo Biloba for Treating Tinea Pedis
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The Purpose of This Study is to Evaluate the Level of Relief Perceived by Patients Using Medicated Footbath/Footwash With or Without an Oral Medication for the Treatment of: Toenail Fungus Ingrown Toenails Cellulitis Athletes' Foot Pitted Keratolysis Diabetic Ulcers Open Infected Sores Abscesses Joint Infections Wound Care
What are the Latest Advances for Athlete's Foot?
Autoeczematization: A Strange Id Reaction of the Skin.
Viability of pathogenic dermatophytes during a 4-week treatment with 1% topical luliconazole for tinea pedis.
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A Phase 2, Controlled, Dose-Ranging Study of SB208, an Investigational Topical Nitric Oxide-Releasing Drug, for the Treatment of Tinea Pedis.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : April 14, 2021
Published By : Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Elewski BE, Hughey LC, Hunt KM, Hay RJ. Fungal diseases. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 77.

Hay RJ. Dermatophytosis (ringworm) and other superficial mycoses. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 266.