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Foot Care: Athlete’s Foot Treatment and Prevention

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection that affects the sole of the foot and usually begins between the toes.

There are a variety of fungi that cause athlete’s foot, and these can be contracted in many locations, including gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools, nail salons, and from contaminated socks and clothing. In many cases, the fungus that causes athlete’s foot is contracted from walking barefoot in areas where someone else with athlete’s foot has walked.

If you have a rash on your foot that doesn’t improve within a few weeks after self-treatment, consult your healthcare provider. If you have diabetes, it is best to seek help sooner rather than later to avoid further complications.


Athlete’s foot is similar to other fungal infections, such as ringworm and jock itch, and can be spread by contact with an infected person or from contact with contaminated surfaces, such as towels, floors and shoes.

Although athlete’s foot is contagious, some people are more likely to get it than others. The chance of contracting athlete’s foot also increases with age. Additionally, if you’ve already had athlete’s foot once, you are at an increased risk to get it again.


There are many possible symptoms of athlete’s foot. You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Itching, stinging, and burning between the toes or on the soles of the feet
  • A scaly, itch rash between the toes or on the soles of the feet
  • Cracking and peeling skin on the feet
  • Dry skin on the soles or sides of the feet
  • A discoloration of the toenails


A skin lesion KOH exam is the most common test for athlete’s foot. A doctor scrapes off a small area of infected skin and places it in potassium hydroxide (KOH). The KOH destroys normal cells and leaves the fungal cells untouched so they are easy to see under a microscope.


If your athlete’s foot is mild, an over-the-counter anti-fungal ointment, lotion, powder or spray should be enough to clear up your infection. However, if your athlete’s foot doesn’t respond to over-the-counter treatments, you may need a prescription-strength medication to apply to your feet. Severe infections may require antifungal pills such as terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconazole (Sporanox), or fluconazole (Diflucan).

Treatment for athlete’s foot should generally be continued for four weeks or at least one week after all of the skin symptoms have cleared.


The following tips can reduce the chances of contracting athlete’s foot:

  • Keeping your feet clean and dry, especially between your toes
  • Changing socks regularly to avoid sweat buildup
  • Avoid wearing shoes made of synthetic materials, such as vinyl or rubber
  • Never wear the same pair of shoes every day.
  • Use antifungal powder on your feet.
  • Wear sandals when using public showers or standing around swimming pools

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The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472



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