Skin > Skin - Localized Symptoms > Athlete's Foot

Athlete's Foot

Main Symptoms

  • Red, scaly, cracked rash between the toes
  • The rash itches and burns
  • With itching, the rash becomes raw and weepy
  • Often involves the insteps of the feet
  • Unpleasant foot odor
  • Mainly in adolescents
  • Cause: A fungus infection that grows best on warm, damp skin.

See More Appropriate Topic

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • Looks infected and fever is present

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If

  • Pus is draining from the rash
  • Foot is very painful

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Rash has spread beyond the instep and toes
  • Age < 10 years
  • You have other questions or concerns

Parent Care at Home if

  • Mild athlete's foot and you don't think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Athlete's Foot

  1. Antifungal Cream: Apply an antifungal cream 2 times per day.
    • Use Micatin or Lotrimin cream (no prescription needed)
    • Apply it to the rash and 1 inch beyond its borders
    • Continue the cream for at least 7 days after the rash is cleared
  2. Keep the Feet Dry: Rinse the feet 2 times per day before applying the cream. Go barefoot or wear sandals as much as possible. Wear socks made of synthetic fibers. They will keep the feet drier and cooler than cotton. Change them twice daily.
  3. Avoid Scratching: Scratching infected feet will delay a cure. Rinse the itchy feet in cool water for relief.
  4. Contagiousness: The condition is not very contagious. The fungus can't grow on dry, normal skin. Children with athlete's foot do not need to miss any school or sports. Your child may take gym and continue with sports. The socks don't need to be boiled.
  5. Expected Course: With proper treatment, athlete's foot usually clears in 3 to 4 weeks.
  6. Call Your Doctor If
    • It looks infected
    • Rash continues to spread after 1 week on treatment
    • Rash is not cleared by 4 weeks on treatment
    • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor Now" symptoms