Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal skin infection. It usually occurs in the dark, warm, and humid area between the toes. There are three main types of athlete’s foot. A toe web athlete’s foot infection is the most common type of athlete’s foot. A moccasin-type athlete’s foot infection is a chronic infection. A vesicular-type athlete’s foot infection is the least common of the three types of athlete’s foot.


Athlete’s foot is caused by the growth of tinea fungus on the skin of the feet. The fungus grows heartily in places that are damp and warm, such as showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools. A person who sweats a lot, who has a minor skin or nail injury, who wears closed shoes, or who has wet feet for long periods of time is at risk for getting athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot spreads very easily by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces or the toes or feet of someone who has it. It can spread to other parts of the body as well as from person to person. In addition, people who have made contact with the fungi but do not actually have the infection can pass it along to others.


The symptoms of athlete’s foot are different from one person to the next. Common symptoms include itching, burning, dry skin, inflammation, and blisters. Other symptoms depend on the type of athlete’s foot.


  • Toe web infections usually occur between the fourth and fifth toes. They may start with soft, moist, and pale white skin. There may be itching, burning, and a slight odor. As it worsens, the skin between the toes becomes scaly; then it peels and cracks. Severe cases involving a bacterial infection result in a very bad odor and further breakdown of the skin.
  • Moccasin-type infections may start with dryness, itching, burning, or scaly skin on the heel or bottom of the foot. As the skin thickens, it cracks and peels. Severe cases result in infected toenails that can eventually thicken, crumble, and fall out.
  • Vesicular infections usually start with the appearance of fluid-filled blisters under the skin. Repeat infections may occur, and the skin might be scaly between eruptions. There may be a bacterial infection as well.

Severe symptoms may include increased pain, tenderness, swelling, redness, or heat; a fever of 100 degrees or higher for no other apparent cause; red streaks extending from the area; pus discharge or drainage of any type; or indications that the condition is spreading. If any of these are apparent or if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you should call Jacksonville Foot and Laser right away to schedule an appointment with Dr. Burmeister.


Not all skin problems on the feet are athlete’s foot. To confirm that your skin issue is actually athlete’s foot and to accurately determine its type, it is best to consult with Dr. Burmeister. In order to make his diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan, he will begin by doing a visual exam of your skin. He will also ask about the symptoms and any fungal infections you have had previously. If you have not responded to previous treatments or your symptoms are unusual, Dr. Burmeister may do a KOH exam to confirm the presence of fungi or a skin culture to determine the type of fungus. The need for a skin biopsy is rare.


Dr. Burmeister will devise a treatment plan that is based on the severity and type of athlete’s foot that you have. It is important that the plan be followed as prescribed. Otherwise, it may fail to resolve the problem making it likely that it will return.

For toe web infections, non-prescription topical antifungals are usually tried first. They are applied to the skin. If they are unsuccessful or the infection is severe, prescription topical or oral antifungals are tried. The pills are expensive and require periodic testing for side effects. In addition, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections that may occur.

A moccasin-type infection is hard to treat because of the thickness of the skin on the bottom of the foot. Non-prescription antifungal medicines generally are not able to penetrate the skin, so a prescription topical medicine that penetrates the skin or a prescription oral antifungal medicine is needed.

Vesicular infections are treated by drying out the blisters. At Jacksonville Foot and Laser, Dr. Burmeister will remove the tops of the blisters and soak the foot until the area is dried out. Afterward, you will use a topical antifungal cream as directed. An oral antibiotic or corticosteroid pills may be prescribed in severe cases or in cases involving a bacterial infection.

While treatment for athlete’s foot is ongoing, steps must be taken to ensure that the fungus does not spread. Washing clothes in hot bleach water will help kill any fungi on your clothes. After bathing or showering, dry your feet last. When getting dressed, put on socks before underwear.


Athlete’s foot is easier to contract than it is to prevent. Being aware of good foot hygiene and putting it into practice will go a long way toward heading off the culprit fungi.

  • Feet need to be washed daily with soap and water. They need to be completely dried afterward. Special care should be taken to dry between the toes.
  • Use talcum or antifungal powder on your feet to reduce moisture from perspiration. Additionally, you should dust foot powder in shoes and on socks.
  • It is important to wear clean socks that absorb moisture. They should be changed as often as is necessary to keep your feet dry.
  • Your feet need to breathe. Shoes should be light, well-ventilated, and composed of natural material. Before wearing shoes again, air them out for at least 24 hours. When inside, take off the shoes, and just wear socks.
  • Wear shower shoes, sandals or flip-flops in showers and on pool decks.

To prevent reoccurrence of athlete’s foot, complete the full course of any antifungal medication even if symptoms have disappeared. Use lamb’s wool to separate toes, and wear shoes that have not been infected by fungi.

If you experience the symptoms of athlete’s foot, Dr. Jeffrey Burmeister, DPM, and his experienced staff are ready to fully diagnose, treat, and see you on your way to pain-free living. Schedule an appointment by calling (904) 765-8889 or by completing an online appointment request at Contact .