Athlete’s foot also referred to as tinea pedis, is an infectious fungal infection that affects the top layer of the foot’s skin and spreads into the toenails and hands. It is most common in people whose feet are highly sweaty due to tight-fitting shoes. Furthermore, it happens when the tinea fungus grows on the feet, causing jock itch and ringworms. This fungus thrives in warm, moist, damp socks and humid conditions. 

Athlete’s feet are transferable. You can acquire this fungus through direct contact with an infected individual or by touching fungus-infected surfaces such as towels, floors, swimming pools, showers, and shoes. 


The various symptoms of an athlete’s foot are:

  • Stinging, tingling, and burning of toes and soles
  • Itchy blisters on the feet
  • Peeling and breaking of toes and soles
  • Dry or raw skin on the sides or soles of the feet
  • Discolored, breakable, and thick toenails
  • Pulling away toenails from the nail bed

If you have the symptoms listed above and do not improve using home remedies and over-the-counter antifungal products, consult your doctor.


The doctor will observe the signs and symptoms by looking at the foot. If the doctor is not sure about your feet’ condition, he/she will conduct a skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam.

This exam is done by extracting a small patch of contaminated skin and immersing it in potassium hydroxide. Afterward, the KOH kills normal cells while leaving the fungal cells unchanged, making them easy to examine under a microscope.


If you have a mild athlete’s foot, the doctor will prescribe over-the-counter topical antifungal medications. If these drugs fail to work, he/she will suggest topical or oral-prescription strength antifungal medications, along with other home remedies to get rid of the infection.

OTC medications 

  • terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
  • miconazole (Desenex)
  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
  • tolnaftate (Tinactin Butenafine) 
  • (Lotrimin Ultra)

Prescription medications

  • Topical and prescription-strength: clotrimazole or miconazole
  • Oral antifungal medications: itraconazole (Sporanox), fluconazole (Diflucan), or prescription-strength terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • Topical steroid medications for intense inflammation
  • Oral antibiotics for bacterial infections

Home Treatment

The doctor will order you to wet your feet in saltwater or diluted vinegar to dry the blisters quickly.

Alternative Therapy

Tea tree oil is one of the most common alternative therapies to eliminate an athlete’s foot infection. If you are unsure about it, ask your doctor.

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