Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis)

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Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis)


What is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis), is also known as ringworm of the foot, is a surface (shallow) fungal contamination of the skin of the foot. The most common fungal disease in humans, athlete's foot, might be passed to people by direct contact with infected people, infected animals, contaminated objects, (for example, towels or locker room floors), or the soil.


  1. Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet.
  2. This condition is contagious and can spread to the toenails or hands.
  3. Going barefoot in public places, for example, locker rooms are a typical way to get an athlete’s foot.

Athlete’s foot — additionally called tinea pedis — is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It can likewise spread to the toenails and the hands. The fungal disease is called athlete's foot because it’s commonly found in athletes.

Athlete's foot isn't serious, but sometimes it's difficult to cure. If you have diabetes or a weak immune system and suspect you have athlete's foot you should call your specialist right away.


What causes athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot happens when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. You can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person, or by contacting surfaces polluted with the fungus. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments. It's commonly found in showers, on locker room floors, and around swimming pools.


Who's at risk?

Anybody can get athlete’s foot, however, certain practices can increase your risk. Factors that increase your risk of getting athlete's foot include:

  • Going in public places barefoot, particularly locker rooms, showers, and swimming pools.
  • Sharing socks, shoes, or towels with an infected individual.
  • Living in a warm, humid atmosphere.
  • Wearing tight-fitting, closed-toe shoes.
  • Keeping your feet wet for a long period of time.
  • Having sweaty feet.
  • Having a minor skin or nail damage on your foot.
  • Having diabetes or a weak immune system.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common areas of athlete's foot include:

Spaces (networks) between the toes, particularly between the fourth and fifth toes and between the third and fourth toes

Soles of the feet

Tops of the feet

Athlete's foot may influence one or both feet. It can appear to be unique relying upon which part of the foot (or feet) is included and which fungus (ie, dermatophyte) has caused the infection:


On the top of the foot,athlete's foot appears as a red, flaky patch or patches, ranging from 1 to 5 cm. The border of the affected skin might be raised, with bumps, rankles, or scabs. Frequently, the center point of the injury has normal-appearing skin with a ring-shaped edge, leading to the descriptive but inaccurate name ringworm. (It is inaccurate because there is no worm involved.)


Between the toes (the interdigital spaces),athlete's foot may appear as inflamed, layered, and soggy tissue. Parting of the skin (gaps) might be available between or under the toes. This type of athlete's foot tends to be very itchy.

On the sole of the foot (the plantar surface),athlete's foot may appear as pink-to-red skin with scales running from mild to widespread (diffuse).


Another kind of tinea pedis disease, called bullous tinea pedis, has painful and itchy blisters on the curve (instep) as well as the ball of the foot.


The most extreme type of tinea pedis infection,called ulcerative tinea pedis, appears as painful blisters, pus-filled bumps (pustules), and shallow open sores (ulcers). These injuries are especially common between the toes, however may include the whole sole. Because of the numerous breaks in the skin, lesions normally become contaminated with bacteria. Ulcerative tinea pedis happens more frequently in individuals with diabetes and others with weak immune systems.

There are numerous possible symptoms of athlete's foot, which include:

  • Itching, stinging and burning between the toes
  • Itching, stinging, and burning on the bottoms of the feet
  • Blisters on the feet that itch
  • Cracking and peeling skin on the feet, most regularly between the toes and on the bottoms
  • Dry skin on the bottoms or sides of the feet
  • Raw skin on the feet
  • Stained, thick, and brittle toenails
  • Toenails that pull away from the nail bed


How is athlete's foot analyzed?

A specialist may diagnose athlete's foot by the side effects. Or a specialist may arrange a skin test if they aren't sure a fungal infection is causing your side effects.


A skin lesion potassium hydroxide (KOH) exam is the most common test for athlete's foot. A doctor scrapes of a small area of infected skin and places it in potassium hydroxide (KOH). The KOH destroys cells and leaves the fungal cells untouched so they are easy to see under a microscope.


Self-Care Guidelines

If you suspect that you have athlete's foot, you may try one of the following over-the-counter antifungal creams or lotions:

  • Terbinafine
  • Clotrimazole
  • Miconazole

Apply the antifungal cream between the toes and to the soles of the both feet for at least 2 weeks after the areas are totally clear of sores.

In addition, try to keep your feet dry, creating a condition where the fungus cannot live and grow:

  1. Wash your feet every day and dry them carefully, you can even use a hairdryer (on low setting) if possible.
  2. Utilize a different towel for your feet, and don't share this towel with any other person.
  3. Wear socks made of cotton or wool, and change them once or twice at least, or more frequently if they become damp.
  4. Avoid shoes made of synthetic materials, for example, vinyl or rubber.
  5. Wear shoes as regular as possible.
  6. Apply antifungal powder to your feet and inside your shoes each day.
  7. Wear protective footwear in locker rooms and community pools and showers.


When to Seek Medical Care

If the lesions don't improve after 2 weeks of applying over-the-counter antifungal creams or if they are exceptionally itchy or painful, see your specialist for a check-up. If you have blisters, pustules, or ulcers on your feet, see a specialist as earliest as possible.



Athlete's foot can often be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal medicines. If OTC medications don't treat the fungal infection, your specialist may prescribe topical or oral prescription-strength antifungal medications. Your specialist may also recommend home remedies which will help to clear up the infection faster.


OTC medications

There are many OTC topical antifungal medications, including:

  • Miconazole (Desenex)
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
  • Butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
  • Tolnaftate (Tinactin)

Prescription Medications:

Some of the prescription medications, your specialist may prescribe for athlete's foot include:

  1. Topical, prescription strength clotrimazole or miconazole.
  2. Oral antifungal medications, for example, itraconazole (Sporanox), fluconazole (Diflucan), or prescription strength terbinafine (Lamisil).
  3. Topical steroid medications to reduce painful inflammation.
  4. Oral antibiotics if bacterial diseases develop because of raw skin and blisters.


Home remedy:

Your specialist may prescribe you to soak your feet in saltwater or in diluted vinegar to help dry up the blisters.



Athlete's foot can lead to complications at times. Mild complications include an allergic reaction to the fungus, which can lead blistering on the feet or hands. It's also possible for the fungal infection to return after treatment.

There can be more severe complications if a secondary bacterial disease develops. In this case, your foot may be swollen, itchy, painful and hot. Discharge, fever, pus are the signs of bacterial infection.

It's also possible for the bacterial infection to spread to the lymph system. A skin infection could lead to lymphangitis (disease of the lymph vessels) or lymphadenitis (disease of the lymph nodes).


*Disclaimer- None of the information provided here is the substitute for any diagnosis or treatment by your health professional. Seek the advice of your qualified health provider or your physician in case of any critical or major health issue does not rely on this information in case of any emergency.

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Written by -

Padma Lekhi