Diagnosis

In some cases, your doctor may be able to diagnose athlete's foot simply by looking at it. To help confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions, your doctor might:

  • Take skin scrapings or samples from the infected area and view them under a microscope
  • Send a small sample of your skin to a lab to be tested

Treatment

If your athlete's foot is mild, your doctor may suggest using an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, lotion, powder or spray. If your athlete's foot doesn't respond, you may need a prescription-strength medication to apply to your feet. Severe infections may require antifungal pills that you take by mouth.

Preparing for your appointment

Your primary care doctor or a skin specialist (dermatologist) can diagnose athlete's foot. You don't need any special preparations for an appointment to diagnose athlete's foot.

What you can do

Before your appointment, you might want to write down a list of questions to ask your doctor. Examples include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What treatments are available?
  • Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Can I wait to see if the condition goes away on its own?
  • What can I do to prevent the infection from spreading?
  • What skin care routines do you recommend while the condition heals?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?
  • What did the rash look like when it first started?
  • Is the rash painful or itchy?
  • Does anything seem to makes it better?
  • What, if anything, makes it worse?
  • Does a family member also have athlete's foot?
  • Have you spent time at swimming pools, locker rooms, saunas or other places where athlete's foot might be spread?