Health Guide

Tinea pedis

What is it?

Tinea (TIN-ee-uh) pedis is also called athlete's foot. It is a skin infection (in-FEK-shun) of the bottom of the foot and between the toes. It can spread to other areas of the body, such as the toenails. The infection is usually gone in three weeks with treatment. It may take one to three months before it is completely gone. You may get athlete's foot more than once.


Athlete's foot is caused by a germ called fungus. It can be spread to others by sharing towels or shower stalls. You may also get it more easily if you use public locker rooms or swimming pools. Your chances of getting it are greater if you do not wash your feet or change socks every day. People in hot, humid weather or who have sweaty feet may get athlete's foot more easily.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may have one or more of the following on your feet:

  • Bad smelling feet.
  • Blisters that break and leave open, raw areas.
  • Cracking.
  • Itching and burning.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Scaly or peeling skin.
  • Thicker, darker skin on the bottoms or sides of your feet.
  • If it has spread, you may have thick, abnormal looking toenails.

Wellness Recommendations:

  • Wash your feet every day and dry them well, especially between your toes. Putting talcum powder between your toes after washing your feet may prevent another infection.
  • Change your shoes and socks every day. Use cotton or wool socks. Wear sandals, canvas tennis shoes, or go barefoot during treatment for athlete's foot.
  • If you have blisters, soak your feet in an astringent (uh-strin-junt) solution for 20 to 30 minutes two times a day to dry out the blisters. An astringent solution may be bought at drug or grocery stores.

Medical Care:

There are many medicines that can be put on the skin to treat athlete's food. These medicines can be bought over-the-counter at drug or grocery stores.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Other ways of treating your symptoms:

Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:

  • You would like medicine to treat tinea pedis.
  • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
  • You think the infection is spreading.
  • The infection is not better in 14 days or completely gone in 90 days.
  • The skin on your foot or leg is red and hot.
  • You have a rash on other parts of your body.
  • You have questions about what you have read in this document.


  • You have a fever or shaking chills.
  • You have a red line going up your leg.

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


1. Ledezma E, Marcano K, Jorquera A et al: Efficacy of ajoene in the treatment of tinea pedis: a double-blind and comparative study with terbinafine. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000; 43(5 pt 1):829-832.

2. Tong MM: Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis. Australas J Dermatol 1992; 33(3):145-149.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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