Athlete’s Foot

Treatment and Information

A few years ago, my son came home from school and took off his shoes next to me on the couch. I glanced over, noticed his long toenails, and asked him to go get the clippers and take care of them.

Just a few minutes later, he called out to me. I asked what the problem was, and he showed me red, peeling skin between his toes. He also said that it had been itchy for a few days. Considering how active he is, I knew right away that the problem was athlete’s foot.

He was a little embarrassed, but I told him not to worry. The truth is that athlete’s foot is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is extremely common—at any given time, up to 25% of Americans have it! More importantly, with simple treatment and preventative measures, most people are able to get rid of their athlete’s foot and greatly reduce their risk of future cases.


Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal skin infection, and usually begins between the toes. It is closely related to other fungal skin infections like jock itch and ringworm, as well as fungal toenails. (All are caused by the same kinds of fungi, so they can actually spread from one place to another.)

These fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, and spread quickly through direct contact with infected surfaces. This includes the insides of shoes, especially for those who sweat a lot (such as athletes), as well places like locker rooms, pools, showers, and restrooms.


Athlete’s foot may sometimes be difficult to distinguish from other kinds of skin infections, such as eczema or psoriasis. If you aren’t sure about what you have or how to deal with it, it’s never a bad idea to give our office a call.

One of the first signs of athlete’s foot is that the skin on the affected area will be moist and pale white. You may also experience itching and burning in the affected area. As athlete’s foot progresses, your skin may even peel and crack.

There are three types of athlete’s foot, and each one may affect your feet differently:

  • Toe Web Infection.
    This is the most common type of athlete’s foot infection, usually beginning between the fourth and fifth toes. It develops much as was described above. Some people with this type of athlete’s foot may also develop a bacterial infection. This could further cause the skin to break down.
  • Moccasin-Type Infection.
    This infection begins with minor irritation, dryness, itching, burning, or scaly skin on the sole and heel. As it progresses, the skin will become thickened and cracked, and start to peel. In the most severe cases, the toenails will become infected. If they do, they may thicken, crumble, and possibly even fall out. It is often mistaken as dry skin or eczema.
  • Vesicular-Type Infection.
    The vesicular (blister) infection will usually begin as a sudden outbreak of fluid-filled areas under the skin. The blisters typically develop on the bottom of the foot, but can sometimes also occur on the heel, between the toes, or on the top of the foot. You can also develop a bacterial infection with this type of athlete’s foot.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Athlete’s Foot?

These conditions are very common for young athletes, so if you have an athlete at home, pay close attention to their personal hygiene and just how well they are taking care of their feet.

That being said, anyone can contract athlete’s foot, although some people are naturally more prone than others. You don’t have to be a certain age, or even play sports. Your feet could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Factors that increase your chances of contracting athlete’s foot include:

  • Walking barefoot in public locker rooms, restrooms, pools, and showers
  • Sharing socks, shoes, or towels with an infected person
  • Wearing tight-fitting, closed-toe shoes that don’t allow your feet to breathe
  • Wearing the same pair of shoes every day
  • Having wet feet for long periods of time
  • Having sweaty feet
  • Having a minor skin or nail injury on your foot
  • Having another active fungal infection (such as fungal toenails)

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Athlete's Foot


If you have diabetes and suspect that you have athlete’s foot, then it’s important you be seen by a podiatrist as soon as possible. Diabetes and athlete’s foot make a dangerous combination.

If you are otherwise healthy, most cases of athlete’s foot can be treated at home with over-the-counter creams, lotions, or sprays. To reduce the risk of recurrence:

  • Always finish the full recommended treatment course noted on the label or by your podiatrist. The fungus can continue to live on your skin, even after your symptoms have gone.
  • To ensure you kill the fungi on your clothes, use hot water and bleach when you wash. Soapy, warm water may not do the trick on its own.
  • To prevent the recurrence of a toe web infection, use an antifungal powder to help keep feet dry, place lamb’s wool between your toes to keep them separated, and wear wider shoes that allow your feet to breathe.
  • Discard shoes that may have been infected by the fungi.

Athlete’s foot is highly contagious. It’s important that you treat it as such and keep the area clean and covered so it does not touch other people or surfaces.

If home care is ineffective, you should come in and see us. We may need to prescribe special pills or topical treatments to help you get rid of it.

How Do I Prevent Athlete’s Foot?

Taking proper precautions can help prevent athlete’s foot. Here are some of the most important steps to take:

  • Wash feet daily with soap and water then dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • Make sure feet are thoroughly dry before putting on shoes and socks. If you are tracking moisture/water into your shoes from the shower, chances are your skin will remain moist/wet, providing an ideal environment for fungus to flourish.
  • Make sure your socks are made of breathable fibers like cotton or wool, or synthetic fibers that absorb sweat. Change your socks daily or whenever sweaty feet have made your socks moist.
  • Wear shoes or sandals that allow your feet to breathe.
  • Make sure you air out your shoes for 24 hours before wearing again.
  • Don’t go barefoot in public places, especially showers, locker rooms, and pools.
  • Use antifungal foot powder daily.
  • Don’t share socks, shoes or towels.

If you believe you have athlete’s foot or have other concerns about the condition of your feet, then give us a call. Our friendly foot doctors will help you find a solution for your problem.

Our foot and ankle care doctors and surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and are members of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and the American Podiatric Medical Association. Call (208) 855-5955 or request an appointment online.

If you’re in need of at home antifungal foot care, feel free to browse our collection of Dr.’s Remedy foot care products, including their antifungal cuticle oil.

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Feet shouldn’t hurt, and neither should their treatment. If you are experiencing foot pain or problems, then give us a call. The podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle will thoroughly examine your feet and evaluate your symptoms to better understand your condition.