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Athlete's Foot: Symptoms and Diagnosis


Determining whether you’ve developed a case of athlete’s foot is relatively easy.  There are plenty of symptoms that 

indicate the fungi’s presence.  Don’t expect, though, to experience every symptom of this contagious infection.  You may only have a fraction of them.

Characteristically, athlete’s foot is recognized by an itching, burning or stinging between your toes.  More often than, not the infection settles into the space between you last two toes. You may also notice these same symptoms on the soles of your feet.


Your feet, if affected with this infection, may develop itchy blisters. Another indication of the presence of this fungus is cracking and peeling of the skin on your feet.  This usually occurs in the same areas that the burning happens – between your toes and on the soles of your feet. 


You may also notice that the sides and bottoms of your feet are extremely dry.  These too are signs that you have contracted athlete’s foot.


Athlete’s foot can also affect the health and condition of your toenails.  If your nails are thick or discolored then you may have athlete’s foot.  Additionally, toenails that are crumbly, ragged or pulling away from the nail bed may also be infected with tinea pedis.


When you visit your health care practitioner with these symptoms, his initial reaction will no doubt be to ensure that the infection is caused by tinea pedis and not by some other skin disorder.  He’ll probably want to exclude the possibility that these conditions could have been caused by dermatitis or by psoriasis.  Be prepared to be able to answer some questions about your being exposed to contaminated areas or being in contact with individuals who may have athlete’s foot.


Your health care practitioner may take scrapings of the affected skin.  These will be evaluated under a microscope to identify the type of fungus. If, indeed, a fungus is causing these problems, he’ll most likely prescribe an antifungal medication.


The possibility may also exist that the test of the skin scraping fails to indicate the presence of any fungus.  If your health care practitioner still suspects that a fungus is to blame for your condition, he may send a sample of your skin to a laboratory to discover if fungus would grow under the proper conditions.  This test is called a culture.  He may also decide to order one if you’ve undergone treatment for the condition and no improvement is seen.  

Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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