Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)

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Man scratching his athlete's foot.Close up.What is Athlete’s Foot?

The medical name for athlete’s foot is Tinea pedis. Athlete’s foot is an itchy rash on the feet. You don’t have to be an athlete to have athlete’s foot.

What causes Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is an infection of the foot caused by fungus. It is most common in male teenagers and young men. Fungus is normally present on our skin. Under the right conditions this fungus can grow and cause the symptoms of athlete’s foot. Fungus usually grows best in dark, moist places (like inside your shoes). Not everyone gets athlete’s foot. Fungus seems to grow better on some people than others.

What are the symptoms of Athlete’s Foot?

Common symptoms of athlete’s foot are:

  • A rash with scaling and cracking on the foot-usually between the toes
  • Scaling and sometimes small blisters on the sides and bottom of the foot
  • Itching and burning
  • Foot odor

How is Athlete’s Foot diagnosed?

You may think you have athlete’s foot if you have any of the above symptoms; however a health care provider will make the diagnosis by scraping the affected skin and looking at it under the microscope to see if the fungus is present. The scraping can also be placed in special growth material to grow the fungus. Not all itchy rashes of the feet are athlete’s foot.

How is Athlete’s Foot treated?

There are several types of creams, powders, and lotions you can buy in a drug store (without a prescription) to treat athlete’s foot. They are called “topical” treatments and are applied to the affected areas and work by killing the fungus. Sometimes fungus doesn’t go away even after using these treatments. You should see your provider if your athlete’s foot doesn’t go away or if it gets worse.

How can I prevent Athlete’s foot?

You can help prevent athlete’s foot by keeping your feet clean and dry. Follow these simple instructions:

  • Wash your feet with soap while showering. If possible, wash your feet twice a day.
  • Dry your feet after you wash them-make sure to dry between your toes
  • Wear leather or cloth shoes. Avoid plastic shoes
  • Wear open shoes, such as sandals, during summer
  • Try not to wear the same shoes or socks for two days in a row
  • Wear clean socks made of 100% cotton (cotton absorbs moisture).
  • Avoid man-made socks fabric such as polyester
  • Wear shower shoes when using public showers
  • Go barefoot at home
  • Put an antifungal powder in your shoes during the summer
If you’re concerned about athlete’s foot, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: My feet and toes are all dry, cracked, and they itch like crazy. What should I do?