Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that affects the feet. You can usually treat it with creams, sprays or powders from a pharmacy, but it can keep coming back.

Check if you have athlete’s foot

Symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

A pharmacist can help with athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is unlikely to get better on its own, but you can buy antifungal medicines for it from a pharmacy. They usually take a few weeks to work.

Athlete’s foot treatments are available as:

  • creams
  • sprays
  • powders

They’re not all suitable for everyone – for example, some are only for adults. Always check the packet or ask a pharmacist.

You might need to try a few treatments to find one that works best for you.

How you can help treat and prevent athlete’s foot yourself

You can keep using some pharmacy treatments to stop athlete’s foot coming back.

It’s also important to keep your feet clean and dry. You don’t need to stay off work or school as long as you follow this advice.

See a GP if:

  • treatments from a pharmacy don’t work
  • you’re in a lot of discomfort
  • your foot is red, hot and painful – this could be a more serious infection
  • you have diabetes – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
  • you have a weakened immune system – for example, you’ve had an organ transplant or are having chemotherapy

Treatment from a GP

Your GP may:

  • send a small scraping of skin from your feet to a laboratory to check you have athlete’s foot
  • prescribe a steroid cream to use alongside antifungal cream
  • prescribe antifungal tablets – you might need to take these for several weeks
  • refer you to a specialist called a dermatologist for more tests and treatment if needed

How you get athlete’s foot

You can catch athlete’s foot from other people with the infection.

You can get it by:

  • walking barefoot in places where someone else has athlete’s foot – especially changing rooms and showers
  • touching the affected skin of someone with athlete’s foot

You’re more likely to get it if you have wet or sweaty feet, or if the skin on your feet is damaged.