ATHLETE’S FOOT (technical name tinea pedis) is a rash caused by a fungus that usually appears between the toes.
The affected skin may be itchy, red, scaly, dry, cracked or blistered. It’s not usually serious, but should be treated to stop it spreading to other parts of the body or other people, and treatment usually involves over-the-counter creams, sprays or liquids and good foot hygiene.
Athlete’s foot most commonly affects the skin between the toes or on the bottom of the feet, and the affected areas of skin may be dry, red, scaly and flaky; white, soggy and cracked; itchy and sore; or covered in small blisters
The infection can spread around your foot and to your toenails, and scratching the infected skin and then touching other parts of your body can also spread the infection.
In severe cases, skin damaged by athlete’s foot can become infected with bacteria. This can lead to cellulitis, which causes the skin to become red, hot and swollen.
Athlete’s foot is caused by fungi growing and multiplying on the skin. The fungi that cause the infection thrive in warm, dark and moist places like feet.
You’re more likely to get athlete’s foot if you don’t keep your feet clean and dry; wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty; walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms; share towels, socks and shoes with other people; have a weakened immune system; have certain other health conditions, such as diabetes.
Athlete’s foot is unlikely to get better on its own. It can usually be treated using antifungal treatments available from pharmacies without needing to see a GP, although not all types are suitable for children, older people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
If your rash is very sore and itchy, a pharmacist may recommend using a mild steroid cream to ease any discomfort, but this should only be used for a short period and in combination with antifungal treatment.