Think you need to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot? Think again. This common fungal infection affects men, women, and children of all ages whether they’re athletes or not. Athlete’s foot is typically caused by fungi that thrive in a warm, moist environment. Most often, it starts between the toes and moves across your foot. This type of fungal infection is contagious, so when your child brings it home, be aware that it can spread across the family if you aren’t careful. While walking barefoot can spread the infection, it often hits those with impaired immune systems or diabetes the hardest. Thankfully, athlete’s foot is easily treatable with over-the-counter antifungal medications.
Understanding the symptoms of athlete’s foot will help you catch it before it has a chance to spread to your whole family.
Athlete’s foot can infect one or both of your feet. Although it’s primarily an infection of the foot, it can spread to your hands if you scratch or pick at the infected areas on your feet. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
- A red or white scaly rash
- A rash that starts between your toes
- Itching, especially right after removing footwear
- Blisters or ulcers (in some types of athlete’s foot)
- Chronic dryness and scaling on the soles of the feet, which can also extend up the side of your foot. This is caused by the moccasin variety of athlete’s foot.
You can do several things at home to treat your athlete’s foot.
- The first thing you should keep in mind is that your feet need to be clean and dry.
- Avoid having moist or wet feet. Change your socks if they become moist or sweaty during the day.
- Wearing socks that pull moisture away from the skin (which is called moisture wicking) can also keep your feet dry.
- Take off your shoes and remove the insoles of your shoes to allow them to dry overnight.
- Use a talcum or medicated powder on the inside of your shoes (dusted lightly) to get rid of moisture.
- If possible, trade off pairs of shoes from day to day so your shoes have plenty of time to dry completely.
- To get rid of your infection, use an over-the-counter medication daily. Spread a small amount over the bottom of your foot at least once every day.
In most cases, you won’t need to see a doctor for your fungal infection. Over-the-counter anti-fungal medications can easily help treat athlete’s foot. However, you should seek medical care if:
- Your infection becomes increasingly painful, swollen, or red. This can mean your fungal infection has also been infected with bacteria. When this happens, you may also experience blisters, pus-like drainage, a fever, or open sores. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help clear up the bacterial infection.
- Your daily activities are affected by your athlete’s foot.
- You have diabetes or other immune system deficiencies that may make it difficult for your body to fight off an infection.