What Is Athlete’s Foot?

A red scaly rash between your toes is likely to be a fungal infection known as Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). Symptoms include burning, itching, and stinging. A variety of the fungal infection known as moccasin causes scaly dry skin on the sole and up the side of your foot and is often mistaken for dry skin or eczema. While the scaly rash is most common, in some cases ulcers or blisters may form on the foot.

Athlete’s foot is very contagious. It can be spread by towels, clothing, and contaminated floors. The fungal infection can also spread to your nails, fingers, and hands if you pick at or scratch the rash. Nail fungus is often difficult to get rid of. The same type of fungus causes ringworm and jock itch.

It is called Athlete’s foot because it commonly develops due to damp sweaty socks confined in tight fitting shoes. You can help prevent it by keeping your feet dry, changing out of sweaty socks when they get wet, and alternating shoes so they have time to dry before wearing again. It is also recommended to not share shoes with other people. In areas that may be infected, such as public pools, gyms and showers, wear flip flops or shower shoes to prevent against Athlete’s foot.


Over-the-counter anti-fungal medications may relieve symptoms, but the fungal infection may take weeks to clear up and come back. If the rash does not improve after a few weeks of home treatment or if accompanied by swelling, fever, drainage or excessive redness, you should schedule an appointment with Ryan Foot and Ankle Clinic.

How Is Athlete’s Foot Treated?

Your podiatrist will exam your foot to confirm it is Athlete’s foot. They may examine skin scrapings under a microscope, send a sample to the lab, or use a Wood’s light to view the infected area under black light.

Mild cases of Athlete’s foot may be treated with prescription medication, especially if the fungal infection has not responded to over-the-counter creams, sprays or powders. Severe infections may require oral anti-fungal medication.

If you have athlete’s foot or would like more information about this condition, give us a call at one of our 5 local podiatry offices in Charlotte, Concord and Harrisburg today for more information or to schedule an appointment.