Athlete’s Foot: What It Looks Like, Symptoms & Treatment

Athlete’s Foot: What It Looks Like, Symptoms & Treatment

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Overview

Athlete's Foot
Athlete’s foot on the bottoms of toes

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal (caused by a fungus) infection. Athlete’s foot is a form of ringworm. Tinea pedis is another name for athlete’s foot. Tinea is another name for ringworm, and pedis means foot or feet. Athlete’s foot causes an itchy, stinging, burning rash on the skin on one or both of your feet. Athlete’s foot is most common between your toes, but it can also affect the tops of your feet, the soles of your feet and your heels.

With this infection, your skin may become scaly and cracked or develop blisters. Sometimes, your feet smell bad, too.

What does athlete’s foot look like?

Athlete’s foot can affect the skin between your toes, the bottoms of your feet, the tops of your feet, the edges of your feet and your heels. Your skin may appear irritated (red, purple, gray or white), scaly or flaky.

Who does it affect?

Athlete’s foot affects everyone. However, it most commonly affects men and people over the age of 60. You may be more likely to develop athlete’s foot if you have:

  • Diabetes.
  • Obesity.
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Tissue damage or wounds on your feet.

How common is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is common. Estimates suggest that 3% to 15% of the population has athlete’s foot, and 70% of the population will get athlete’s point at some time in their lives.

How does this condition affect my body?

Athlete’s foot commonly affects the skin between your toes. Your skin may change color, crack, peel and flake. Your skin may also turn a lighter color and become thicker and swollen.

Athlete’s foot can spread across the bottom of your foot or feet. This is moccasin athlete’s foot. In feet with moccasin athlete’s foot, the skin on the bottoms, heels and edges of your feet are dry, itchy and scaly.

In severe cases of athlete’s foot, you may develop fluid-filled blisters or open sores. Blisters often appear on the bottoms of your feet, but they may develop anywhere on them. Open sores often appear between your toes, but they may also appear on the bottoms of your feet. Your feet might also smell bad, too.

What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?

Your symptoms depend on the type of athlete’s foot that you have.

  • Toe web infection: A toe web infection is the most common type of athlete’s foot. It typically affects the skin between your fourth toe (ring toe) and fifth toe (pinkie toe). Your skin may change color, crack, peel or flake.
  • Moccasin-type infection: A moccasin-type infection affects the bottoms of your feet, your heels and the edges of your feet. Your feet may be sore for a few days. Then, the skin on the bottom of your feet thickens and cracks. In rare cases, your toenails may get infected. They can thicken, break into small pieces and fall out.
  • Vesicular-type infection: A vesicular-type infection typically affects the bottom of your feet, but it may appear anywhere on them. A vesicular-type infection features bumps or fluid-filled blisters (vesicles).
  • Ulcerative infection: An ulcerative infection is the rarest type of athlete’s foot. Open sores (ulcers) often appear between your toes. Open sores may also appear on the bottom of your feet.