FootCareDirect Footcare Resource

Athletes Foot And Fungus Problems

Athlete's foot typically affects the skin on the feet between the toes, but can move anywhere on the foot and can affect the toenails. When the infection spreads to the toenails, they become thick and distorted. We have a separate page with information on Fungus Nails.


What is Athlete's Foot?

Athlete's Foot Fungus

Athlete's foot is a fungal infection of the skin and the nails, usually found on the skin between the toes.

Fungi are plant organisms (tinea pedis) such as mold and mildew and grow best in conditions that are moist. Bacteria may thrive as a secondary infection, which worsens the symptoms of the disorder and makes it more difficult to cure. A fungal infection is one of the most difficult nail and foot conditions to treat.

It is common to catch athlete's foot from other people who have it by walking on floors that are moist or wet (e.g. at swimming pools and in shared bathroom facilities). Athlete's foot is also much more common in people who tend to have moist feet. Athlete's foot can also be spread by sharing other people's shoes or personal care items such as towels and wash cloths.

Athlete's foot and fungus may also spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch there and then touch themselves elsewhere.


  • On the skin:
    • Reddened, cracked, and peeling skin
    • Some bleeding
    • Itching
    • Burning
    • Stinging sensation
    • Development of small blisters (Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads. In severe cases the skin may thicken, like a callus, and begin to scale.)
  • On the toe nail:
    • Change in color (yellow or brown)
    • Nail gets thicker
    • Bad odor
    • Debris collects beneath the nail
    • White marks on the nail


Self-care treatments:

Bathe your feet at least once a day with soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly after bathing and keep your feet dry. Change socks frequently and buy socks that absorb moisture, such as cotton and wool. Expose your feet to the air for short periods of time throughout the day (do not walk barefoot, however). Wear sandals with open toes whenever possible.

There are a variety of over-the-counter products that can be used to treat the tinea pedis fungus, such as:

If these OTC products prove ineffective, prescription topical or oral antifungal drugs such as Sporonax or Lamisil can be prescribed by your Podiatrist.


  • Wear sandals or shoes when walking on moist or wet floors
  • Don't share shoes or personal care items such as towels
  • Wear socks made of absorbent materials such as cotton or wool
  • Change socks frequently if you perspire heavily
  • Choose footwear that allows for the circulation of air
  • Keep the floors in shared facilities clean and dry
  • Keep your feet clean and dry by dusting Bromi-Talc Foot Powder in shoes and stockings and on your feet
  • Clean athletic shoes frequently with a good athletic shoe cleaning product