Athlete's Foot  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • An itchy rash of the feet and between the toes
  • Skin infection caused by a fungus
  • Age over 10 years

If not, see these topics
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Athletes Foot between Toes
Athletes Foot between Toes

Athlete's Foot
Athlete's Foot

When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Fever and looks infected (spreading redness)
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • Looks infected and no fever
  • Pus drains 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 to the top of the feet
  • Age less than 10 years
  • Rash is not better after 1 week on treatment
  • Rash not gone after 2 weeks on treatment
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Mild athlete's foot
Causes & Health Information


  • Red, scaly, cracked rash between the toes
  • The rash itches and burns
  • With itching, the rash becomes raw and weepy
  • Often also involves the insteps of the feet
  • Unpleasant foot odor
  • Mainly in teens. Before age 10, it’s usually something else.


  • A fungus infection that grows best on warm, damp skin

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Athlete's foot is common in teens.
    • It's caused by a fungus that grows best on warm, damp skin.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Antifungal Cream:  
    • Use an antifungal cream 2 times per day.
    • Examples are Lamisil, Micatin or Lotrimin cream. No prescription is needed.
    • Put it on the rash and 1 inch beyond its borders.
    • Continue the cream for at least 7 days after the rash is gone.
  3. Keep the Feet Dry:  
    • Rinse the feet 2 times per day before using the cream.
    • Go barefoot or wear sandals as much as possible.  
    • Wear socks made of man-made fibers. They will keep the feet drier and cooler than cotton. Change them twice daily.
  4. Do Not Scratch:
    • Scratching infected feet will delay a cure.
    • Rinse the itchy feet in cool water for relief.
  5. Return to School:  
    • Athlete's foot is not easily spread to others. The fungus can't grow on dry, normal skin.
    • Children with athlete's foot do not need to miss any school. Your child may take gym and play sports.  
    • The socks can be washed with the normal laundry. They don't need to be boiled.
  6. Jock Itch Prevention:
    • The athlete's foot fungus can spread to the groin area. This is called jock itch.
    • The fungus can be spread by a towel or washcloth.
    • Therefore, after bathing, dry the groin area before the feet.
    • You can also use a different towel for the feet.
    • Do this until the athlete's foot is cured.
  7. What to Expect:
    • With proper treatment, athlete's foot goes away within 2 weeks.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • It looks infected
    • Rash is not better after 1 week on treatment
    • Rash is not gone after 2 weeks on treatment
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 12/14/2012

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.