Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that affects many people at some time in their lives. The condition easily spreads in public places such as communal showers, locker rooms and fitness centers.
Athlete's foot usually affects the spaces between your toes, but it can spread to your toenails and the soles and sides of your feet. Often, athlete's foot responds well to over-the-counter (nonprescription) treatments you can apply to your skin. More severe cases may require prescription medications.
Also called tinea pedis, ringworm of the foot and dermatophytosis, athlete's foot is closely related to other fungal skin conditions, most with similar names. Tinea is a type of fungus, and pedis is the Latin word for “foot.”
Other common tinea infections include:
- Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis): This form causes a red, scaly ring or circle of rash on the top layer of your skin.
- Jock itch (tinea cruris): This form affects your genitals, inner thighs and buttocks.
- Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis): This form is most common in children and involves red, itchy patches on the scalp, leaving bald patches.