Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that develops in the moist areas between the toes and other areas of the feet. Athlete’s foot is one of the most common fungal infections and is closely related to ringworm. Athlete’s foot is contagious but can usually be treated with over-the-counter medication. Athlete’s foot will cause itching, tingling and/or burning between the toes and around the foot.
Mold-like fungi called dermatophytes are normal inhabitants of the skin, but given the right conditions these fungi can multiply and infect the skin, causing irritation and discomfort such as burning, stinging and itching. Dermatophytes thrive in warm, moist areas. Damp socks and tight shoes (plastic shoes in particular) provide a welcoming environment for these fungi to multiply. Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread by contact with an infected person’s towels, shoes and even contaminated floors.
- Itching, stinging and burning between the toes and/or on the soles of the feet
- Itchy blisters
- Toenails that are thick, crumbly, ragged, discolored or pulling away from the nail bed (this indicates the fungal infection has spread into the nail)
- Excessive dryness of the skin on the bottoms or sides of the feet
- Cracking and peeling skin, especially between the toes and on the soles of the feet
Athlete’s Foot Treatments
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) medication to help keep your feet dry and relieve the itching. Some topical OTC anti-fungal treatments include: butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra); clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF); miconazole (Desenex, Zeasorb, others); terbinafine (Lamisil AT); tolnaftate (Tinactin, Ting, others)
- Wash affected area with warm water and mild soap and dry completely.
- Apply anti-fungal cream or powder.
- Wash and disinfect your shoes, socks, floors and anything that might have come into contact with the fungus to prevent recontamination.
- Try to keep toes and feet dry and cool and avoid open-toed shoes and footwear.