Athlete's Foot


Is this your child's symptom?

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

If NOT, try one of these:

What to Do

Select the First Symptom that Applies

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Fever and looks infected (spreading redness)

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Looks infected and no fever
  • Pus drains from the rash
  • Foot is very painful

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • 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

Self Care at Home

  • Mild athlete's foot

Care Advice for Athlete's Foot

  1. What You Should Know About Athlete's Foot:
    • 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. Anti-Fungal Cream:
    • Use an anti-fungal cream (such as Lotrimin). No prescription is needed.
    • Use 2 times per day.
    • Put it on the rash and 1 inch (25 mm) 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
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

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

Causes and Background Information

Symptoms of Athlete's Foot

  • 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.

Cause of Athlete's Foot

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

Complications of Athlete's Foot

  • Jock Itch. A fungus infection of the groin and inner, upper thighs. Caused by the same fungus that causes athlete's foot. Transferred by a towel used to dry the feet and then the groin.
  • Impetigo. A local bacterial infection that starts in the cracks between the toes. Gives sores, soft scabs and pus.
  • Cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads into the skin. Gives redness spreading into the back of the foot. The red area is painful to the touch.
  • Lymphangitis. The bacterial infection spreads up the lymph channels. Gives a red line that goes up the leg. More serious because the infection can get into the bloodstream. This is called sepsis.

Copyright 2000-2018. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.