Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
What is Tinea pedis?
This medical condition is a foot infection more commonly known as “athlete’s foot”. Tinea pedis literally means ringworm of the foot. Although it primarily affects your feet it can also spread to other areas of your body. It will usually affect the areas between your toes. It is a very common skin infection. It is a contagious infection and can be spread from person to person by sharing towels, walking barefoot on surfaces that are warm and wet, etc.
Tinea Pedis Symptoms
Most of these symptoms will affect the bottom of your feet, between the toes, or a combination of both.
- Skin that is peeling or scaly which can cause itchiness between your toes. When the skin eventually becomes soft, the whitish edges will easily peel off. In some cases of scaly skin there is no itchiness.
- There may be lesions on your feet that have a center that can be red and irritated and in some instances there is a watery charge.
- Feet that smell bad
- On the sides and bottoms of your feet the skin is dark and thick
- Toenails that is abnormal and thick
- The infection could be called the moccasin variety causing the sole of your foot to be dense, scaly, white, and thick and may have large areas of inflammation, cracked skin, and vesicles that are filled with fluid.
- Sometimes there is inflammation, swelling, and pain
- Having a burning sensation
Tinea pedis is caused by a parasitic fungus that thrives in wet, warm environments and is called dermatophytes. There are several types of these mold-like fungi. If you have tinea pedis it can stay in your skin indefinitely and can cause you to have the rash over and over. You can also get it by sharing a towel with someone who has tinea pedis. You can also get it from walking barefoot in a public shower or locker room or walking around the edge of a swimming pool. You can also get it if you wear tight fitting shoes that do not let your feet breathe making your feet hot and sweaty. You can also get it from wearing the same sweaty socks the next day or not washing your feet, even between your toes, every day.
When you visit your physician for your foot infection they will look at the appearance of your skin but if the symptoms makes it harder to diagnosis if it is tinea pedis they can do a test called a skin culture. They will take skin scrapings and look at it under a microscope to see if the fungus that causes tinea pedis is present.
What treatment is used depends on how long you have had tinea pedis and how severe the case is. Usually when a person has tinea pedis it is treated with antifungal medication. You can get it over-the-counter or in prescription form from your physician. When you are using antifungal medication to clear up your case of tinea pedis you will need to use it at least four weeks even if the symptoms have cleared up. If you are using over-the-counter antifungal medication you can get it in powders, sprays, and creams and should be applied once a day to clean dry feet. How often you would apply prescription medication would depend on how severe it is. If it is a severe case you may also be given a prescription for oral antifungal medication. If you have a secondary bacterial infection you may also be given a prescription for an oral antibiotic. Sometimes it will clear up on its own by using good hygiene practices.
If you have pain and itching you can soak your feet in Epsom salts, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, or tree oil dissolved in warm water. When you are soaking your feet you should soak your feet for twenty-five to forty minutes once in the morning and once before you go to bed. You can also use onion and garlic extract to help cure the infection. One thing that you should not do is use any type of anti-itch creams. They will help relieve your itch but the drawback is that they can also contribute to the growth of the fungus because these types of creams will make your skin moister.
If you have blisters you can soak your feet in a drying solution called an astringent which you can get at a drug store, grocery store, or department store. When soaking your feet make sure that you do it twice a day for twenty to thirty minutes. Do not use any antifungal cream on your feet until the fluid in the blister is gone.
Once you get rid of the infection you need to make sure that you are keeping your feet and shoes dry and clean and do not share towels or shoes with anyone else. You should also make sure that you are wearing shower shoes when in public shower, lockers, or in the area around the pool. You should also make sure that you frequently launder your sheets, socks, and towels. You should also use a disinfectant on the bathroom tiles at home to prevent the spread of tinea pedis at home.