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Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis): Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, refers to the inflammation of the skin overlying the foot from a fungal infection. The fungus proliferates in warm and moist areas of the skin. The infection begins with a rash on the skin, usually between the toes and is common in athletes due to the heat and sweat produced in their shoes. About 70% of the population may suffer from athlete’s foot at some time of their lives. Athlete’s foot is most common in athlete's footwarmer climates and in young males. The condition can be very difficult to treat; therefore, preventive steps must be taken to ensure that the infection does not occur.

A person with athlete’s foot may experience itchiness of the skin, scaly rash on the toes and redness of the skin. Additional symptoms may involve peeling of the skin, blisters, severe itching and splitting of the affected regions of the skin.

Treatment for athlete’s foot usually includes anti-fungal ointment creams and oral fungal medication only prescribed by your doctor. Additional treatment measures include antihistamine medication to control itching.  It is also important that you keep your feet clean, dry and devoid of sweat as much as possible.

Important: this post on fungal infections, causes and treatment is for learning purposes only. To learn more about these and other foot issues and injuries consult your doctor or enroll in St Mark James first aid training courses.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

  • Localized rash – can be red or pink
  • Scaly skin
  • Blisters
  • Peeling skin
  • Burning sensation
  • Itching
  • Splitting of the skin – usually between the toes
  • Swelling of the skin


Treatment for athlete’s foot may last as long as 4 weeks. It is important that you keep your feet clean and dry as recurrence of the infection is common – usually when people do not follow a proper hygiene and take prescribed medication as directed.

Specific treatment options for athlete’s foot include:

1. Keep the feet clean and dry

  • Dry your feet properly after washing them
  • Use talcum powder to ensure that the feet remain dry
  • Wear sandals or flip flops in warm weathers to reduce sweating

2. Wear clean socks with closed shoes

  • Wear clean socks and wash them in hot water with soap after using
  • Avoid reusing socks the next day and change socks regularly

Other treatment options include:

  • Avoid scratching the rash to prevent the spread of infection to other areas of the body
  • Keep your finger nails short
  • Keep the feet clean and dry and avoid activities that may cause sweat
  • Bath only once a day and dry the skin properly
  • Use topical anti-fungal cream
  • Take oral histamines and oral fungal medication as directed by your doctor


Follow these preventive steps to ensure that you do not get athlete’s foot:

  • Avoid close contact with people who have athlete’s foot
  • Do not touch another person’s rash
  • Do not share towels, socks, shoes or other belongings with others
  • Make sure your skin is clean and dry at all times
  • Avoid using steroids creams for rash
  • Wear sandals and flip flops
  • Wash socks, sandals and tennis shoes in hot water
  • Sweat absorbent cotton socks
  • Wear flip flops or slippers in communal showers or changing rooms
  • Wear breathable shoes
  • Clean your bathroom and shower area with disinfectant detergents

 Learn More

To learn more about minor and major first aid emergencies and issues sign up for first aid classes with a St Mark James provider near you.

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