Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that develops on the skin of the foot. The infection typically originates between the toes, but it can occur on any part of the foot.
Athlete’s foot can be passed from person-to-person through physical contact. Most people, however, first contract the fungus by walking barefoot on a contaminated surface, such as a locker room floor, swimming pool deck or public shower. Once contracted, the fungus can quickly grow when people wear tight shoes that don’t provide much air circulation and their feet sweat.
Athlete’s foot is characterized by a scaly, red rash that itches. Often, the itching is worst immediately after shoes and socks are taken off, and it lessens as the foot airs out. Some cases of athlete’s foot may also create ulcers or blisters on the foot.
As mentioned, the infection typically begins between the toes. These symptoms can occur anywhere on the foot, though.
Athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications. Over-the-counter medicines sometimes aren’t strong enough to fully eradicate infections, though, and infections can recur. When over-the-counter antifungals don’t cure an athlete’s foot infection, a prescription medication may be needed.
Seeing a doctor for a potential athlete’s foot infection is a simple appointment that takes about as long as a routine check-up. After preliminaries, such as vitals, are taken, the doctor will ask about symptoms and take a medical history. They’ll likely perform an examination of the foot, after which they’re usually able to make a diagnosis. If appropriate, they may write a prescription to treat the infection. The entire process takes only a short amount of time.