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 a skin scraping or skin sample from your foot for testing in a lab.
If your athlete's foot is mild, your doctor may suggest using an over-the-counter antifungal ointment, cream, 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.
Lifestyle and home remedies
These tips can help you ease the symptoms of athlete's foot or avoid a recurrence:
- Keep your feet dry, especially between your toes. Go barefoot to let your feet air out as much as possible when you're home. Dry between your toes after a bath or shower.
- Change socks regularly. If your feet get very sweaty, change your socks twice a day.
- Wear light, well-ventilated shoes. Avoid shoes made of synthetic material, such as vinyl or rubber.
- Alternate pairs of shoes. Don't wear the same pair every day so that you give your shoes time to dry after each use.
- Protect your feet in public places. Wear waterproof sandals or shoes around public pools, showers and lockers rooms.
- Treat your feet. Use OTC antifungal product as directed daily. For example, creams may be applied to dry feet twice a day and used for a week even after the rash is gone.
- Try not to scratch the rash. You can try soothing your itchy feet by soaking them in cool water.
- Don't share shoes. Sharing risks spreading a fungal infection.
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?
Sept. 04, 2019
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- Thompson DA. Athlete's foot. In: Adult Telephone Protocols. 4th ed. Itasca, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2019.