Athlete's Foot

What is it?

Athlete's foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus that gets its name because the infection was common among athletes.

The fungus grows in warm, dark, humid environments such as shoes, swimming pools, showers and locker rooms. Athlete's foot can occur between the toes, the bottom or the sides of the foot.

Who is affected?

Approximately 5 percent of the U.S. population suffers from occasional foot infections1.

What are the symptoms?

  • Dry skin
  • Itching
  • Scaling skin
  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Blisters
  • Dust mites
  • Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads

What can I do to prevent and treat it?

To prevent future infections of athlete's foot:

  • Bathe or shower daily with warm water and soap.
  • Completely dry your feet and the areas between the toes.
  • Do not use the same towel to dry infected and noninfected areas.
  • Wash towels with detergent, bleach and hot water.
  • Wear clean cotton socks every day.
  • Do not wear the same pair of shoes every day.

OTC medications can be used to treat the infection.

The following are examples of OTC medications that can be used to treat the symptoms of athlete's foot:

Symptom relief Helpful medications Active ingredients* to look for in generic and name brand OTC products

Relieve itching, burning, cracking and scaling


Terbinafine Hydrochloride 1%
Example: Lamisil AT®

Example: Desenex®

Example: Lotrimin AF®

* Active ingredients: ingredients in a medication that produce a therapeutic response


1 American Podiatric Medical Association at

Note: This information is intended to provide readers with health information. The information provided is not a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider. Brand names included on this Web page are provided for examples only. Their inclusion does not mean that they are endorsed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.