Athlete’s Foot: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Athlete’s Foot: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

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What is athlete’s foot?

Tinea pedis, more often known as athlete’s foot, is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It is also known as tinea pedis. It is also possible for it to spread to the hands and toenails. The fungal infection known as athlete’s foot gets its name from the prevalence of the condition in athletes.

Even though athlete’s foot is not a dangerous condition, it can be difficult to treat at times. If you have diabetes or a weaker immune system and think you could have an athlete’s foot, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible.

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What exactly is the cause of an athlete’s foot?

Tinea pedis, sometimes known as athlete’s foot, is a fungal infection that affects the feet. It is possible to contract the fungus by coming into close contact with an infected individual or by touching surfaces that have been contaminated with the fungus. Conditions that are warm and humid are ideal for the growth of the fungus. It is typical to discover it on the floors of locker rooms and showers, as well as in and around swimming pools.

Who should be concerned about getting an athlete’s foot?

An athlete’s foot can affect anyone at any time, but engaging in particular activities puts you at a greater risk. You are more likely to get athlete’s foot if you have any of the following risk factors:

walking around in public facilities without shoes, notably changing rooms, showers, and swimming pools

Towels, shoes, or socks that have been shared with an infected person

using footwear with a snug fit and a closed toe

enduring prolonged contact with moist conditions with your feet

having feet that are perspiring

having a cut or scratch on your foot, possibly one of your nails as well

What signs and symptoms are associated with an athlete’s foot?

There are a wide variety of potential symptoms associated with athlete’s foot, including the following:

a sensation of itching, stinging and burning in the spaces between your toes or on the bottoms of your feet

welts and itching on your feet as a result of blisters

skin flaking and cracking on your feet, most frequently occurring in the spaces between your toes and on your soles

your soles or the sides of your foot have a dry skin condition.

bare skin on the soles of your feet

toenails that are discolored, thick, and crumbly.

toenails that separate from the nail bed and become loose.

How can one determine if they have an athlete’s foot?

The signs of an athlete’s foot can help a doctor diagnose the condition. Another option is for your doctor to conduct a skin test if they are unsure whether or not your symptoms are being caused by a fungal infection.

The most common diagnostic procedure for an athlete’s foot is a skin lesion potassium hydroxide examination. A little portion of the diseased skin is scraped off by a doctor and placed in a solution of potassium hydroxide. Because KOH eliminates normal cells but does not affect fungal cells, the latter are preserved and can be easily observed with a microscope.

What kind of treatment is there for the athlete’s foot?

Topical antifungal drugs that are available over-the-counter (OTC) are frequently effective in treating athlete’s foot. In the event that over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are unable to treat your infection, your physician may recommend topical or oral antifungal medications that require a prescription. There is a possibility that your physician will also suggest that you try treating the illness at home.

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Over-the-counter medicines

There is a wide variety of over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal medicine, including the following:

miconazole (Desenex)

terbinafine (Lamisil AT)

clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)

butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)

tolnaftate (Tinactin)

Medications available only by prescription

To treat athlete’s foot, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following over-the-counter or prescription medications:

topical, prescription-strength clotrimazole, or miconazole

antifungal drugs that are taken by mouth, such as itraconazole (Sporanox), fluconazole (Diflucan), or terbinafine in prescription strength (Lamisil)

drugs that are applied topically that contain steroids in order to lessen the unpleasant inflammation

oral medicines in the event that bacterial infections arise as a result of blistering and raw skin.

Home care

In order to speed up the healing process, your physician may suggest that you soak your feet in a solution of diluted vinegar or salt water.

A different kind of treatment

An alternate treatment that has shown some promise in the management of athlete’s foot is the application of tea tree oil. According to the findings of a study that was conducted in 2002, a solution of tea tree oil was 50 percent effective in treating athlete’s foot in 64 percent of people who participated in the trial.

If you suffer from an athlete’s foot, you should inquire with your physician about the possibility of using a tea tree oil remedy. Some people develop contact dermatitis after coming into touch with tea tree oil.


In certain people, athlete’s foot can develop into more serious issues. One of the more minor problems is an allergic reaction to the fungus, which can cause blistering on the hands or feet. After receiving therapy, the fungal infection could come back. This is another possibility.

In the event that a secondary bacterial infection develops, the patient may experience more serious problems. In this scenario, your foot could be tender, swollen, and heated all at the same time. The second set of symptoms associated with a bacterial infection includes fever, discharge, and pus.

Additionally, the bacterial infection may spread to the lymph system if it is not treated promptly. It’s possible that infection on your skin will spread to your lymphatic system and infect your lymph nodes.

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Perspectives on the long term

Infections of the athlete’s foot can range from minor to severe. Some of them clear up very fast, while others stick around for a very long time. Infections of the athlete’s foot typically respond well to antifungal treatment. However, it can be challenging to eradicate fungal infections in some cases. To prevent athlete’s foot infections from occurring again, it is possible that long-term therapy with antifungal drugs will be required.


You can help avoid athlete’s foot infections by doing a number of things, including the following:

You should use soap and water to wash your feet every day, and then thoroughly dry them, paying specific attention to the space between your toes.

Towels, sheets, and socks should be washed in water that is at least 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit) hot. The majority of instances of athlete’s foot should be cured by following the guidelines for using over-the-counter antifungal products in conjunction with washing socks. You can sterilize your footwear by wiping them down with disinfection wipes (like Clorox wipes) or spraying them with disinfectant.

Daily application of antifungal powder to the foot is required.

Never lend your shoes, socks, or towels to another person. Ever.

Sandals are appropriate footwear for public baths, public swimming pools, and other public areas. Wear sandals.

Put on socks that are either composed of natural fibers like cotton or wool, which allow air to circulate around your feet, or made of synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from the skin.

When your feet start to sweat, you should change your socks.

Going barefoot throughout the house allows you to get some fresh air into your feet.

Put on shoes that are composed of materials that allow air to circulate.

If you want to allow your shoes time to air out and dry out between usage, try alternating between two pairs of shoes and wearing each pair every other day. The presence of moisture will permit the fungus to proceed with its growth.

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