Athlete’s foot is a rash that usually appears between the toes or on the bottom of the feet. The skin may become itchy, red, scaly, dry, cracked or blistered. The infection can spread by scratching the infected skin and then touching other parts of the body. In severe cases the skin can become infected with bacteria which can lead to cellulitis. It can also spread to other people if they touch contaminated skin, surfaces or objects.
Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus called ringworm that grows on the skin. It usually appears between the toes or on the soles of the feet.
You are more likely to get athlete’s foot if you:
- Don’t keep your feet clean and dry
- Wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
- Walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers and gyms
- Share towels, socks and shoes with other people
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have certain other health conditions, such as diabetes
Athlete’s foot is not usually serious but it should be treated as it is unlikely to get better on its own and to stop it spreading to other parts of the body such as toenails and to other people.
It can usually be treated using antifungal treatments available from pharmacies. These are available as powders, creams, gels and sprays and work by stopping the fungus from growing.
Treatment for Athlete’s foot is available on the Minor ailments scheme.