Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. It commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tightfitting shoes.
Signs and symptoms of athlete's foot include a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging and burning. Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing.
Athlete's foot is closely related to other fungal infections such as ringworm and jock itch. It can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, but the infection often recurs. Prescription medications also are available.
Athlete's foot usually causes a scaly red rash. The rash typically begins in between the toes. Itching is often the worst right after you take off your shoes and socks.
Some types of athlete's foot feature blisters or ulcers. The moccasin variety of athlete's foot causes chronic dryness and scaling on the soles that extends up the side of the foot. It can be mistaken for eczema or even as dry skin.
The infection can affect one or both feet and can spread to your hand â especially if you scratch or pick at the infected parts of your feet.
If you have a rash on your foot that doesn't improve after self-treatment, see your doctor.
If you have diabetes, see your doctor if you suspect you have athlete's foot, especially if you notice any signs of a possible secondary bacterial infection such as excessive redness, swelling, drainage or fever.
Athlete's foot is caused by the same type of fungus that causes ringworm and jock itch. Damp socks and shoes and warm, humid conditions favor the organisms' growth.
Athlete's foot is contagious and can be spread by contact with an infected person or from contact with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, floors and shoes.
In some cases, your doctor may be able to diagnose athlete's foot simply by looking at it. To help confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions, your doctor might:
Your athlete's foot infection can spread to other parts of your body, including:
These tips can help you avoid athlete's foot or ease the symptoms if infection occurs:
You are at higher risk of athlete's foot if you: