Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that affects the feet. You can usually treat it with creams, sprays or powders from a pharmacy, but it can keep coming back.
Symptoms of athlete's foot include:
It can also affect your soles or sides of your feet. If it's not treated, it can spread to your toenails and cause a fungal nail infection.
Athlete's foot sometimes causes fluid-filled blisters.
Athlete's foot is unlikely to get better on its own, but you can buy antifungal medicines for it from a pharmacy. They usually take a few weeks to work.
Athlete's foot treatments are available as:
They're not all suitable for everyone – for example, some are only for adults. Always check the packet or ask a pharmacist.
You might need to try a few treatments to find one that works best for you.
You can keep using some pharmacy treatments to stop athlete's foot coming back.
It's also important to keep your feet clean and dry. You don't need to stay off work or school.
Your GP may:
- send a small scraping of skin from your feet to a laboratory to check you have athlete's foot
- prescribe a steroid cream to use alongside antifungal cream
- prescribe antifungal tablets – you might need to take these for several weeks
- refer you to a specialist called a dermatologist for more tests and treatment if needed
You can catch athlete's foot from other people with the infection.
You can get it by:
- walking barefoot in places where someone else has athlete's foot – especially changing rooms and showers
- touching the affected skin of someone with athlete's foot
You're more likely to get it if you have wet or sweaty feet, or if the skin on your feet is damaged.