Tinea pedis is the medical term for athlete’s foot. This fungal skin infection commonly starts between your toes. While itching might be your first sign that something isn’t right with your feet, you might also notice a scaly rash.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin of your feet. While it is often found between the toes, it is also possible for it to be located in other areas of the foot as well.
This contagious skin infection is closely related to both jock itch and ringworm. This is because all three conditions are caused by the same kind of fungi.
What Are the Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?
Itchy feet — especially in between your toes — is often the first sign of athlete’s foot. Other common symptoms of this skin infection include:
- cracked skin between your toes
- scaly and dry skin on the bottom of your foot that travels up its side
- inflamed skin
- peeling and/or scaly skin between your toes
- discolored skin that could range from grayish, reddish or purplish — depending on your own skin toe
- itchiness — particularly immediately after you take your shoes and socks off
- stinging and/or burning
What Triggers Athlete’s Foot?
Anyone can get athlete’s foot. It is contagious and can be spread from an infected person via surfaces like floors, shoes and towels.
It’s also possible for you to spread the infection from your feet to other parts of your body. This is especially true if you pick at your infected feet or scratch them.
Even though anyone can get athlete’s foot, there are some factors that make it more likely that you could get infected. These include:
- sweating heavily
- walking barefoot in places such as swimming pools, locker rooms, communal showers and saunas
- wearing enclosed shoes, boots or other footwear on a frequent basis
- sharing personal items such as towels, bed linens, shoes, clothes or mats with a person who has some type of fungal infection
How Do I Treat Athlete’s Foot?
After washing your feet, dry them thoroughly and use an antifungal product. Follow the directions on the package regarding the number of times to apply it daily. It could take a couple of weeks before you see results.
Avoid picking at the rash or scratching. Not only could doing so lead to a bacterial infection, it could also make it easier for you to spread the infection to other parts of your body.
Athlete’s foot often comes back. If you don’t see an improvement with at-home care or if you struggle with recurring infections of athlete’s foot, it’s time to see a doctor.
You should also see your doctor if you have diabetes and think you have athlete’s foot. If you have any signs of an infection — fever, pus, swelling — you need to see a doctor.
What is the Best Cure for Athlete’s Foot?
The best cure for athlete’s foot is prevention. Be sure to wash your feet every day and change your socks at least daily. If your feet get extremely sweaty, change your socks more often. Choose socks that are made of cotton or other moisture-wicking materials.
When possible, let your feet air out by wearing sandals without socks. In locker rooms, showers, swimming pools and other similar areas where athlete’s foot could be lurking, wear waterproof sandals or shoes.
Valley Skin Institute is the home of board certified dermatologist, Leslie Storey, MD. Request an appointment today and find relief from athlete’s foot.