Symptoms of athlete's foot 

Athlete’s foot causes an itchy rash to develop between your toes.

As well as being itchy, the affected skin may also be red, scaly, flaky and dry.

In some cases, the bottom of the feet may be inflamed and have small blisters. The blisters can cause the skin to become cracked, which can be sore and painful.

The infection can spread to the sole and side of your foot, producing redness and scaling in these areas. 

If you have severe athlete's foot that causes your skin to become cracked, it may lead to the raw tissue underneath being exposed. As well as being very painful, it increases your risk of developing a bacterial infection.

Read more about the complications of athlete’s foot.

Spread of infection

Athlete’s foot often develops between the little toe and the one next to it. If the infection isn't treated, a rash can form on the bottom and sides of your feet. The infection can also spread to your toenails, causing them to become dry and crumbly.

Scratching the infected skin and then touching other parts of your body can spread the infection. Therefore, it's important to treat the infection promptly. Always wash your hands thoroughly after touching the rash.

Read more about treating athlete's foot.

Tinea manuum

The fungal infection that causes athlete’s foot can sometimes be spread to the hands. This is known as tinea manuum and it can occur if you touch the infected skin on your feet and don't wash your hands afterwards.

However, it's quite rare for athlete's foot to be passed to the hands. If it does occur, it usually affects the palm of one hand, which can become dry, red and itchy.

How long does athlete's foot last?

If athlete’s foot is treated promptly, you'll usually only have symptoms for 1-10 days. If the infection isn't treated, or if it doesn't respond to treatment, your symptoms may last for much longer (months or even years).

See your GP if you have an athlete’s foot infection that doesn't improve after two weeks of treatment, or if it's causing significant pain or discomfort. They may prescribe a stronger antifungal medicine, which will often be in tablet form. 

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2014

Next review due: 16/01/2016