Skin: Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)

The 26 Review

  • What is Athlete’s Foot Tinea Pedis is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet.
  • Causes Spread through encountering an infected person or surface
  • Symptoms Itching, stinging, burning, blisters, cracking or peeling skin, dry or raw skin
  • Diagnosis Physical examination and skin biopsy 
  • Treatment OTC topical medications, prescription fungal medications
26 Foot and Ankle Heel dry skin

Let’s take a closer look…

As mentioned previously, athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet and also the toenails and hands. This infection is most commonly seen in athletes or individuals who engage in physical activities often. This infection is not typically serious, but it can be hard to cure. Individuals with diabetes or a weakened immune system and suspect they have athlete’s foot, should contact their podiatrist. People of all ages and backgrounds can contract athlete’s foot, but certain behaviors can increase one’s risk. Additionally, this infection can also spread to the toenails. Factors that can increase one’s risk of contracting athlete’s foot include the following:

  • Walking barefoot, specifically in locker rooms, showers and swimming pools 
  • Sharing socks, shoes, or towels with an infected person
  • Wearing only tight, closed toe shoes
  • Allowing the feet to stay wet/damp for long periods of time.
  • Having sweaty feet
  • Having a minor nail or skin injury on the foot 


This infection occurs when the tinea fungus grows on the feet. An individual can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person or contaminated surface. It is important to note that fungus thrives in warm, moist environments. This fungus is commonly found in showers, on locker room floors, and in and around swimming pools. 


There is a wide array of possible symptoms that can occur with athlete’s foot. Those symptoms can include the following:

  • Itching, burning, and stinging on the soles of the feet or in between the toes
  • Blisters on the feet that itch 
  • Peeling and/or cracking of the skin on the feet, most commonly found between the toes or on the soles of the feet.
  • Dry skin on the sides or soles of the feet
  • Raw skin on the feet
  • Discolored, crumbly, and thick toenails. 
  • Toenails that pull away from the nail bed


Medical professionals can typically diagnose athlete’s foot by the symptoms and through physical examination. However, the doctor may order a skin test if they are unsure whether a fungal infection is the cause of the symptoms. A skin biopsy is most commonly used to test for athlete’s foot. During this test, the doctor will scrape off a small area of infected skin and send it to the pathology laboratory for exam under a microscope.


Athlete’s foot can oftentimes be treated with OTC topical antifungal medications, however if OTC medications aren’t treating the infection, a doctor may prescribe a topical or oral prescription-strength antifungal medication. OTC topical medications include, miconazole (Desenex), terbinafine (Lamisil AT), clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra), and tolnaftate (Tinactin). With that in mind, there are some alternative at-home treatments that are recommended to lessen symptoms. Soaking the feet in salt water or diluted vinegar can help dry up any blisters. Tea tree oil has also been seen to effectively treat athlete’s foot, however, speak with a professional before trying this treatment as it can cause contact dermatitis in some people.

26 Foot and Ankle Heel dry skin Treatment

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