Athlete’s foot is a common rash caused by a fungus that usually affects the skin between the toes or on the bottom of the foot. The affected skin may be itchy, red, scaly, dry, cracked or blistered.

How do you get Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot can easily spread to other people by touching infected skin or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

You Are More Likely To Get Athlete’s Foot If You:

1. Do not keep your feet clean and dry:

Make sure you thoroughly dry after bathing, especially between the toes.  If you have trouble reaching, you could use a rolled up piece of kitchen towel to slide between the toes or a hairdryer.

2. Wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty

Try to wear cotton socks, roomy shoes made of natural materials such as leather and allow your shoes to dry out between wear.

3. Walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily

Wear flip flops in places such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms.

4. Share towels, socks and shoes with other people

Use your own items and ensure towels are washed regularly.

5. Have a weakened immune system or certain conditions, such as diabetes

Having a good foot care/hygiene regime can help and speak to your GP or podiatrist for additional advice.

How Do I Treat Athlete’s foot?

Although not usually serious, this infection is unlikely to get better on its own and should be treated to stop symptoms and prevent it spreading to other parts of the body or to other people.  It is usually treated with good foot hygiene and pharmacy bought anti-fungal treatments without you needing to see a GP.

The treatments come as creams, sprays, liquids and powders and they help stop the fungus causing your athlete’s foot from growing.  Antifungal treatments are similarly effective, although some work faster than others. A pharmacist can recommend a product that is safe for you to use as not all types are suitable for children, older people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

In severe cases, skin damaged by athlete’s foot can become infected with bacteria. This can lead to an infection under the skin called cellulitis which causes the skin to become red, hot and swollen.  You will need to see a doctor or podiatrist so that you can be promptly treated with antibiotics.

Sometimes a steroid cream is given to reduce discomfort and if the infection is thought to be a dermatitis.  However this can mask a fungal infection by dampening down the inflammation, and once the steroid is stopped the infection can return in full force.

Contact your GP if your athlete’s foot does not start to improve after a week of treatment, or if it’s causing significant pain or discomfort.

Your GP may take a small skin sample for testing and recommend stronger antifungal medicines.