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Treatment for Athlete’s Foot: Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis

Updated December 14, 2023

One of the parts of the body that we rely on the most is our feet. We use them to walk, run, stand, and even dance. They are strong and durable, but they are also susceptible to certain conditions and ailments.

Our feet are constantly exposed to different kinds of fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. In most cases, our immune system is able to fight off these invaders and keep our feet healthy. However, sometimes these organisms are able to take hold and cause an infection.

Have you ever had a burning, itchy feeling between your toes? Or red, scaly patches on the bottoms of your feet? If so, you may have had athlete's foot. This is a common condition caused by a fungus that thrives in warm, damp places. It often affects people who wear tight shoes or who walk barefoot.

Athlete's foot is contagious, and a common condition that can affect anyone, even if you’re not an athlete and you don't play sports! In this article we'll explore the symptoms and causes of athlete's foot, as well as how to diagnose and treat it.

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What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. The scientific name for this condition is tinea pedis. Athlete's foot got its name because it's a common condition among athletes, who are more likely to have sweaty feet and to wear shoes that provide a warm, humid environment where fungus can grow.

Man bending down to rub aching feet. Athlete's foot.

However, you don't have to be good at sports to get it. Anyone can get this condition, especially if they wear shoes that fit snugly and don't allow the feet to breath. People who have diabetes or a weakened immune system are also more susceptible to developing athlete's foot.

Athlete's foot commonly causes itching, burning and redness in the affected areas. The skin may also be painful and flaky. In some cases, athlete's foot can lead to blisters that ooze fluid or crack open. It's important to diagnose athlete's foot as quickly as possible, as it can spread to other areas and parts of the body, causing more serious problems.

Common Causes of Athlete’s Foot

The most common cause of athlete’s foot is a fungus that grows on or near the foot. This fungus is called tinea pedis and is usually found in warm, moist places, such as locker rooms, public showers, and swimming pools.

Keeping your feet dry will help prevent athlete's foot

The fungus enters the body through small cuts or breaks in the skin. Once inside the body, it multiplies and causes an infection.


Athlete’s foot is more common in summer because people are more likely to be barefoot or wear sandals, which don’t provide the same level of protection as closed-toe shoes.


Athlete's foot is a contagious fungal infection that commonly affects the skin and nails of the foot. It can spread through contact with an infected person or object, such as a towel, floor, or shoe. It's important to note that a person can get athlete's foot without directly contact with the infected skin of someone else with the condition. The fungus can also be spread indirectly, for example, go barefoot in public areas where the fungus is present, such as a sauna, pool or gym.

Because our feet are often the part of the body that most comes in contact with infected areas, the foot is a common fungal infection site. Therefore, it's important to wear shoes that protect the feet from fungus—such as closed-toe shoes—particularly when in public areas. It’s also advised to avoid wearing socks and shoes worn by someone with athlete’s foot, as well as sharing towels or other objects that come into contact with the foot. This is because the foto can also be a part of the body which transmits the infection to another part; such as form your feet to your groin.

In this way, it's easy for the infection spread to your hands or other parts of your body. This makes it particularly difficult to treat.

Athlete’s foot is more likely to occur in people who wear tight-fitting shoes or who sweat profusely. As mentioned earlier, the condition is also more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

The most common symptoms of athlete's foot include itching, redness, and scaling on the skin of the foot. In severe cases, it can spread to the toenail and other parts of the body.

The symptoms of athlete’s foot vary depending on the type of infection. The most common symptom is an itchy rash. The rash can be red, dry, cracked, or blistered. It usually starts between the toes and can spread to other parts of the foot. If the infection spreads to the toenail, it can cause discoloration and deformity.

Fungus on the toe nails

In fact, athlete's foot doesn't always remain on the foot. It's possible for the fungus to infect the groin area, where it's known as jock itch. In rare cases, athlete’s foot can cause a more serious condition called cellulitis, which is an infection of the deeper layers of skin and requires medical attention.

How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot

People with diabetes and other conditions that decrease circulation are at higher risk for developing athlete's foot or other common fungal skin infection. It's important to take preventative measures, like changing socks regularly and wearing shoes that allow feet to breathe.

There are several ways you can help prevent athlete’s foot, including:

  • Change your socks often, and wash them in hot water.
  • Don’t wear someone else’s shoes.
  • Keep your feet dry. Dry your feet thoroughly after you bathe or shower, and make sure to thoroughly dry between your toes. Use a hair dryer if necessary.
  • Wear sandals or shower shoes in public places as opposed to going bare foot.
  • Wash your feet and shower shoes regularly.
  • Apply an antifungal powder to your feet every day, especially between the toes.

Treatment of Athlete’s Foot

Most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated at home with over-the-counter anti-fungal topical creams, ointments, sprays or powders. In severe cases, prescription medication may be necessary. The goal of treatment for athlete's foot is to stop the spread of the infection and relieve symptoms. Treatment typically lasts for two to four weeks.

A dermatologist will be able to diagnose and prescribe the proper treatment for athlete's foot.

If over-the-counter treatments don't work, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications. In some cases, you may need to take oral anti-fungal pills for several weeks or months to clear the infection.

It's important to treat athlete's foot as soon as you notice symptoms because the infection can spread to other parts of your body and to other people.

An important part of the treatment involves not causes more skin irritation and potential damage by scratching the infected skin. This can be quite difficult, because the urge to scratch can be quite severe. The best way to avoid scratching is to use an anti-itch cream like Dermeleve®.

Dermeleve is an exception tool in the fight against athlete's foot

Dermeleve® is formulated to stop itch dead in its tracks. Relief can be felt in as little as five minutes.

It also contributes to the overall health of the skin by providing natural ingredients and moisturizers like shea butter, ceramides, and vitamin C and E.

Unlike many anti-itch creams, Dermeleve® is free of steroids. There is no risk of the side effects of long term topical steroid use, and no risk of the withdrawal symptoms that often can accompany prolonged treatment of this kind. This means that Dermeleve® is safe to use as frequently and for as long as desired.

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At the end of the day, athlete's foot is something so common that many of us will unfortunately deal with it at some point in our lives. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to both prevent and treat the infection.

Prevention is the best defense against athlete's foot

The best way to avoid athlete's foot is to practice good hygiene and to keep your feet dry. However, if you do develop the condition, it's important to treat it promptly to avoid further spread of the infection.

Over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments are usually effective, but in severe cases prescription medication may be necessary. Dermeleve® can also be helpful in relieving the itch associated with athlete's foot.

Be sure to take measures to avoid getting it and spreading it, and see a doctor if you don't see improvement with over-the-counter treatments.

Most importantly, try not to scratch! When it comes to Athlete's Foot, we know that can be quite a feet.


Q: What are the symptoms of athlete's foot?

A: The symptoms of athlete's foot may include itching, burning, and cracked, peeling or scaly skin between your toes.

Q: How is athlete's foot diagnosed?

A: Athlete's foot is typically diagnosed through a physical examination by a doctor. In some cases, a skin scraping or biopsy may be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

Q: What are the common causes of athlete's foot?

A: Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus that commonly thrives in warm, moist environments such as locker rooms and swimming pool areas.

Q: What over-the-counter treatments are available for athlete's foot?

A: Over-the-counter antifungal products, such as creams, sprays, or powders, can be used to treat athlete's foot. These products are readily available at pharmacies and can help alleviate symptoms.

Q: When should I see a doctor for athlete's foot?

A: If over-the-counter antifungal treatments do not improve your condition, or if your symptoms worsen or keep coming back, it's important to see your doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

Q: How can athlete's foot be prevented?

A: Prevent athlete's foot by keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing sandals in public showers or locker rooms, and changing your socks and shoes regularly. Additionally, using foot powder to keep your feet dry can help prevent the condition.

Q: Can athlete's foot be treated with home remedies?

A: While some home remedies like applying vinegar or soaking the affected feet in saltwater may provide temporary relief, it's important to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of athlete's foot.

Q: What are the potential complications of athlete's foot?

A: If left untreated, athlete's foot can lead to complications such as spread of the infection to other parts of the body, development of fluid-filled blisters, or signs of an infection such as redness and swelling.

Q: What prescription treatments are available for athlete's foot?

A: For severe or persistent cases of athlete's foot, a doctor may prescribe antifungal pills or stronger antifungal creams to effectively treat the condition. It's important to follow the recommended treatment regimen and attend follow-up appointments as advised by your doctor.

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