Athlete's Foot: Care Instructions

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Vesicular-type athlete's foot between the toes

Your Care Instructions

Athlete's foot is an itchy rash on the foot caused by an infection with a fungus. You can get it by going barefoot in wet public areas, such as swimming pools or locker rooms. Many times there is no clear reason why you get athlete's foot. You can easily treat athlete's foot by putting medicine on your feet for 1 to 6 weeks. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe pills to kill the fungus.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor may suggest an over-the counter lotion or spray or may prescribe a medicine. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • When you get dressed, put your socks on before your underwear. This can prevent the fungus from spreading from your feet to your groin.

To prevent athlete's foot

  • Wear flip-flops or other shower sandals in public locker rooms and showers and by the pool.
  • Dry between your toes after swimming or bathing.
  • Wear leather shoes or sandals, which let air get to your feet.
  • Change your socks as needed so your feet stay as dry as possible.
  • Use antifungal powder on your feet.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.