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What is athlete’s foot?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection affecting the skin on the feet, particularly between the toes. With proper care and treatment, mild cases typically improve within a few weeks, while more severe infections may persist for months.

Symptoms of athlete’s foot

Symptoms of athlete’s foot can vary but usually include:

  • Itchiness in the affected area, especially between your toes
  • Burning sensation after removing your shoes and socks
  • Red and puffy skin
  • Dry, cracked, or peeling skin
  • Small painful blisters that ooze
  • Thick, discoloured and brittle toenails
  • Bad smell caused by the infection

Causes of athlete’s foot

Understanding how athlete’s foot spreads is key to preventing it.

Here are the common causes:

  • Direct contact with infected skin or surfaces
  • Walking barefoot in public places like swimming pools & gyms
  • Sharing personal items like towels, socks and shoes
  • Sweaty feet
  • Tight, non-breathable shoes

Frequently asked questions about athlete’s foot

How do you get athlete's foot?

Athlete’s foot spreads through contact with infected surfaces or items in warm, moist areas like gym locker rooms and swimming pools.

What are the symptoms of athlete's foot?

The symptoms of athlete’s foot typically include itching, burning, redness, cracking, peeling skin, and sometimes blisters.

Can athlete's foot spread to other parts of the body?

Yes, athlete’s foot can spread to other parts of the body, such as the hands or groin, if the fungal infection is left untreated or you have poor personal hygiene.

A close up photo of a severe fungal athlete's foot infection that covers most of the foot

Do you have athlete’s foot?

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Pharmacy First is a new NHS-funded scheme that helps you quickly get the advice & treatment you need from a pharmacy, without needing to see a GP.

The conditions covered by Pharmacy First are:

Video consultations & advice are free of charge. If you pay for prescriptions you will be charged the prescription rate of £9.65 per prescription item.