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Athlete's foot

  • Alternative Names

    Tinea pedis; Fungal infection - feet; Tinea of the foot; Infection - fungal - feet; Ringworm - foot


    Over-the-counter antifungal powders or creams can help control the infection. These generally contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or tolnaftate. Continue using the medicine for 1 - 2 weeks after the infection has cleared from your feet to prevent the infection from returning.

    In addition:

    • Keep your feet clean and dry, especially between your toes.
    • Wash your feet thoroughly with soap and water and dry the area very carefully and completely. Try to do this at least twice a day.
    • Wear clean, cotton socks and change your socks and shoes as often as necessary to keep your feet dry.

    Athlete's foot almost always responds well to self-care, although it may come back. To prevent future infections, follow the steps listed in Prevention.

    Severe, ongoing infections that don't respond to 2 - 4 weeks of self-care, and frequently recurring athlete's foot, may require further treatment by your health care provider. Stronger, prescription antifungal medications may be needed. These include topical medicines, like ketoconazole or terbinafine, and pills. Antibiotics may be necessary to treat secondary bacterial infections that occur in addition to the fungus (for example, from scratching).

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Athlete's foot infections range from mild to severe and may last a short or long time. They may persist or recur, but they generally respond well to treatment. Long-term medication and preventive measures may be needed.


    • Recurrence of athlete's foot
    • Secondary bacterial skin infections such as cellulitis
    • Lymphangitis, lymphadenitis
    • Systemic side effects of medications (see the specific medication)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your doctor right away if:

    • Your foot is swollen and warm to the touch, especially if there are red streaks. These are signs of a possible bacterial infection. Other signs include pus or other discharge and fever.
    • You have diabetes and develop athlete's foot.

    Also call your doctor if athlete's foot symptoms do not go away within one month of using self-care measures.