Symptoms of athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, manifests in different ways depending on the individual and the specific type of fungus causing the infection. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and can affect different parts of the foot.


The following are some of the most common symptoms associated with athlete’s foot:

  1. Itching, stinging, and burning: These sensations typically occur between the toes or on the soles of the feet, often becoming more intense immediately after removing shoes and socks.
  2. Cracking and peeling skin: This is a common symptom, particularly between the toes and on the soles of the feet. The skin can become very dry, leading to scaling and peeling.
  3. Raw skin: Raw, red areas on the feet can result from continuous scratching or from the skin becoming macerated from excess moisture.
  4. Dry skin: This typically affects the soles or sides of the feet. It can become so severe that the skin cracks, leading to pain and potential infection.

These symptoms can be uncomfortable and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. It’s important to seek treatment promptly to alleviate symptoms and prevent the infection from spreading further. If the infection spreads then you may get:

  1. Itchy blisters: Blisters can develop on the feet and often lead to itching. When these blisters burst, they can cause raw areas of skin that can be quite painful.
  2. Discoloured, thick, and crumbly toenails: If the fungal infection spreads to the nails, it can cause toenail fungus (onychomycosis). Affected nails may become yellowish or brownish, thicken, and start to crumble at the edges.
Doctor checking for athlete's foot.

Diagnosis of Athlete’s Foot

Diagnosis of athlete’s foot is typically straightforward. A healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or a dermatologist, can often diagnose the condition based on a physical examination and your description of the symptoms.

However, to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, the doctor may take a skin scraping or a sample from a blister. This sample can then be examined under a microscope or cultured in a laboratory to check for the presence of fungi.

In some cases, your doctor might recommend a KOH exam. This test involves applying a drop of potassium hydroxide (KOH) to a small piece of skin. The KOH destroys normal cells and leaves the fungal cells untouched, making it easier to identify the presence of fungi under a microscope.

Always consult a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any symptoms of athlete’s foot. It’s important to get a correct diagnosis to ensure the right treatment approach.