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Claudia Jackson (RN)
Dr Waseem Mohi
Next Review: Sep 1, 2025
Athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection that affects the feet and usually forms between the toes. It is typically treated with creams, powders or sprays which you can buy in drugstores or in pharmacies. In some people, it can cause burning, stinging, redness, and itching as well as flaking of the skin.
Athlete’s foot is caused when the skin is exposed to a warm and moist environment, e.g. the inside of a shoe. Anyone can get athlete’s foot but certain situations can increase your risk of getting the infection, such as:
It’s recommended that you see a doctor if:
During your doctor’s appointment, your doctor may:
Find out more about getting an online GP appointment for an athlete’s foot.
The symptoms of athlete’s foot are generally mild in most cases and the chances of needing to see a doctor are quite low.
There are several ways that you can try to clear the infection at home:
Over-the-counter medications are available at pharmacies and drugstores which are usually effective at clearing up the infection. These can come in different forms such as:
If you find that your skin feels sore and there is a lot of swelling around the area, your doctor may recommend that you use hydrocortisone. These can be bought over the counter or online.
Most topical antifungal medications (those applied directly to the skin) can also be bought over-the-counter. If your symptoms are severe or the topical treatments didn’t work, your doctor may prescribe oral medications.
Complications are usually rare as most athlete’s foot symptoms are mild so it’s important to treat the infection early to reduce the risks of getting any complications. If you leave the infection untreated for too long, it can cause further issues such as:
If your feet are displaying any of the symptoms above or they suddenly become painful and you think it could be a sign of an athlete’s foot, you should seek advice from your local pharmacist. They’ll be able to recommend over-the-counter medicines and topical treatments.
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