Tinea Pedis Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Tinea Pedis Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


Tinea pedis athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. Because it often attacks athletes, this disease is also often called athlete’s foot or athlete’s foot.

Generally, the area that is attacked is the feet which are often damp due to excessive sweating. If left untreated, athlete’s foot can spread further and infect other parts of the body. This condition can also occur at any age.

An athlete’s foot isn’t serious, but it can be difficult to cure sometimes. If you have diabetes or have a weakened immune system, don’t delay long to see a doctor if you have tinea pedis.

Tinea Pedis Symptoms

Symptoms of athlete’s foot can appear between 4-14 days after coming into contact with the fungus that causes it. Some of the symptoms of tinea pedis include:

  • Redness between the toes
  • Itching
  • Formed wounds or blisters on the skin
  • Formed a round rash resembling a ring
  • Scaly and cracked skin
  • Feet may also swell and peel
  • The soles, toenails and heels may also be affected

This complaint can be experienced in one or both legs. If only one of the feet is affected and then scratched, then holds the other leg, the fungus can spread to that leg. 

Tinea Pedis Reason

Athletes’ foot is caused by the same fungus that causes ringworm, which is from the dermatophytes group. Here are some fungi that often cause tinea pedis:

  • Trichophyton (T.) rubrum
  • T. interdigitale
  • Epidermophyton floccosum

Water fleas are a disease that can be transmitted through direct contact with sufferers. In addition, transmission can also occur through objects contaminated with the above fungi.

Risk Factors

You are at high risk of developing tinea pedis if:

  • Often wear footwear that is closed and too tight
  • The condition of the feet that often sweat excessively
  • Have or frequently exchanged items with a person infected with tinea pedis, such as shoes, socks or towels
  • Walking barefoot in public places where infection can spread, such as locker rooms, saunas, swimming pools or public baths
  • Has a leg wound
  • Leaving the feet wet and moist for a long time
  • Lives in hot and humid tropical environments
  • Rarely change socks
  • People who have a weak immune system (such as from HIV / AIDS, cancer, diabetes, or taking certain drugs)
  • Athletes who engage in contact sports, such as wrestling


The diagnosis of tinea pedis is established on the basis of medical interviews, physical examinations and supporting examinations. During the medical interview, the doctor will conduct questions and answers related to complaints, daily habits, and the patient’s medical history.

On physical examination usually found a reddish spot that appears in the area. The doctor may want to rule out another condition, such as dermatitis, psoriasis, or a skin infection.

Therefore, additional investigations are usually carried out to be more certain about the diagnosis of tinea pedis. Supporting examinations include:

1. Examination of KOH

In this test, the doctor will take a sample of infected skin scrapings on the patient’s leg. After that the sample is dripped with KOH solution or potassium hydroxide and examined under a microscope.

2. KOH solution

KOH solution can destroy human skin cells and leave only cells from the fungus.

3. Examination of Fungal Culture

This examination is also useful to see whether there is a fungus that causes tinea pedis. You do this by taking a sample of infected skin. 

The sample is incubated in certain media to see whether there is fungal growth.

Tinea Pedis Treatment

Treatment of tinea pedis can take a long time, depending on the severity of the disease. In mild cases, it can be overcome by buying athlete’s foot medicine at the pharmacy. 

In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe stronger antifungal medications, usually oral medication.

Here are some types of athlete’s foot medication that are commonly used:

  • miconazole
  • terbinafine
  • clotrimazole
  • butenafine 
  • tolnaftate
  • itraconazole
  • fluconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • sulconazole
  • econazole

The type of drug, dosage and use will be determined by the treating doctor. Of course, by adjusting the severity of the athlete’s foot. 

In addition, doctors can also give other drugs according to symptoms, such as antihistamines for itching or antibiotics if a secondary infection occurs. 

Using the anti-fungal drug above requires compliance because if it is not in accordance with the doctor’s recommendations, athlete’s foot disease can be more severe and take longer to heal.

Then, the risk factors that cause an athlete’s foot must also be avoided so that a recurrence of the disease does not occur.


Some steps that can be taken to prevent tinea pedis infection are:

  • Wash your feet regularly. Use warm water and soap to rinse your feet and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes
  • Change socks regularly. Change your socks at least once a day. It can be changed more often if your feet are really sweaty
  • Use shoes that are not too tight. Shoes that are too tight make your feet sweat and become damp more easily
  • Avoid wearing the same shoes for several days. It is better to use different shoes in a few days so that the shoes used remain dry after use
  • Using footwear in public places. The use of footwear in public places is very important to avoid direct contact with the fungus that causes tinea pedis
  • Avoid sharing shoes with other people. If you live with other people, don’t exchange shoes or other objects to avoid this water lice infection


Although rare, complications can occur in some cases of tinea pedis. Here are some complications from athlete’s foot:

  • Fungal infections in other areas of the body, such as nails, groin or hands
  • Secondary bacterial infection
  • Cellulitis
  • Allergic reaction to mold which can cause blisters on the feet or hands
  • Bacterial infection that spreads to the lymph nodes

When to See a Doctor?

Do not delay to the doctor if you feel the symptoms below:

  • There is no improvement after using the athlete’s foot
  • It looks infected, namely the skin is red, and swollen, and feels hot
  • Feeling very uncomfortable with the symptoms that appear
  • The infection spreads to other parts of the body
  • You have diabetes. Foot problems can become more serious if you have diabetes
  • You have a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV, cancer, undergoing chemotherapy, or have had an organ transplant

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