By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Athlete’s foot or Tinea pedis is caused by a fungal infection between the toes and over the foot. The commonest symptoms are itching, burning, stinging, flaking, scaling, blistering and bleeding skin between the toes or the sides of the feet.
Symptoms of the condition
- Red and itchy skin between toes and sides of the feet.
- Burning, and stinging of the skin
- Peeling, flaking and scaling of the affected skin
- Blistering that may ooze secretions or bleed. The lesions may appear crusty or weeping.
- Secondary bacterial infections may occur at the raw infected sites. This complicates the infection with pain, swelling, bleeding, oozing or formation of pus.
- Thick, discoloured and easily breakable toe nails. This is called onychomycosis.
- Associated fungal infections may occur. These include ringworm on any part of the skin or jock’s itch over the groin.
- Sometimes athlete’s foot can be spread to the hands. This condition is called tinea manuum. It occurs when a sufferer of Athlete’s foot does not wash his or her hands after touching the infected skin on their feet. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Types of Athlete’s foot
Types of Tinea pedis infections include toe web infections, moccasin-type infections and so forth. (2)
Toe web infections
Toe web infections commonly affect the webs between the two smallest toes. The skin turns pale, moist and soft initially.
There may be pain, burning or stinging with itching and a slight smell.
As the infection worsens there may be secondary bacterial infection. This may lead to foul smell, pain, pus formation, blistering, oozing and bleeding.
Moccasin-type infection is a long term infection. It starts as a small area of dryness, burning, or itching skin.
Slowly the area is thickened, with scaling, flaking and peeling skin. This may affect toe nails as well.
Vesicular infection is the least common type of athlete’s foot.
It begins as blisters usually over the instep of the foot or in the toe webs.
It may progress to a full-fledged infection often affecting other areas.
There may be a risk of secondary bacterial infections as well.
Edited by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
What is Athlete's foot?
Athlete's foot Causes
Athlete's foot Diagnosis
Athlete's foot Treatments