Symptoms of tinea pedis include a build up of scale on the feet and sometimes redness and itching.
Doctors base the diagnosis on an examination of the feet.
Treatment includes antifungal drugs applied directly to the affected areas or occasionally taken by mouth and measures to keep the feet dry.
Tinea pedis is the most common dermatophytosis Overview of Dermatophytoses (Ringworm, Tinea) Dermatophytoses are fungal infections of the skin and nails caused by several different fungi and classified by the location on the body. Dermatophyte infections are also called ringworm or... read more because foot sweating results in accumulation of moisture in the warm areas between the toes that allows fungi to grow. The infection may spread from person to person in communal showers and bathrooms or in other moist areas where infected people walk barefoot. People who wear tight shoes are also at risk. The infection is usually caused by Trichophyton.
(See also Overview of Fungal Skin Infections Overview of Fungal Skin Infections Fungi usually make their homes in moist areas of the body where skin surfaces meet: between the toes, in the genital area, and under the breasts. Common fungal skin infections are caused by... read more .)
Symptoms of Athlete's Foot
The fungus can cause mild scaling with or without redness and itching. The scaling may involve a small area (particularly between the toes) or the entire sole of the foot. Sometimes scaling is severe, with breakdown and painful cracking (fissuring) of the skin. Fluid-filled blisters can also form. Over time, the skin on the soles may thicken. Because the fungus may cause the skin to crack, tinea pedis can lead to bacterial infections Overview of Bacterial Skin Infections The skin provides a remarkably good barrier against bacterial infections. Although many bacteria come in contact with or reside on the skin, they are normally unable to establish an infection... read more , especially in older people and in people with inadequate blood flow to the feet.
Diagnosis of Athlete's Foot
A doctor's examination of the feet
Sometimes examination of a skin scraping
The diagnosis of tinea pedis is usually obvious to doctors based on symptoms and the appearance of the affected area.
If the diagnosis is not obvious, doctors do a skin scraping Scrapings Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more and examine it under a microscope.
Treatment of Athlete's Foot
Antifungal drugs applied to the skin or occasionally taken by mouth
Measures to keep the feet dry
The safest treatment of tinea pedis is using antifungal drugs that are applied directly to the affected area (topical). However, tinea pedis commonly recurs, and people often have to use antifungal drugs for a long time. Antifungal drugs taken by mouth (oral), such as itraconazole and terbinafine, are effective but may have side effects. To possibly reduce recurrences, topical and oral antifungal drugs may be used at the same time.
Reducing moisture on the feet and in footwear helps prevent recurrences. Wearing open-toe shoes or shoes that “breathe” and frequently changing socks are important, especially during warm weather. Spaces between toes should be thoroughly towel-dried after bathing. To help keep the feet dry, people may apply antifungal powders (such as miconazole), gentian violet, or aluminum chloride solution or soak their feet in Burow solution (aluminum subacetate). (See also table Some Antifungal Drugs Applied to the Skin (Topical Drugs) Some Antifungal Drugs Applied to the Skin (Topical Drugs) .)