Understanding Fungal Foot Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Do you experience itching, blisters, or a burning sensation between your toes? If yes, you may have fungal foot infections, which are fungal infections that affect your feet. It has 2 common types. It is very contagious, however, it’s easily treatable and preventable. Learn about fungal foot infection causes, symptoms, and treatment in this article. Log on to www.doralhw.org for a consultation.



Type of fungal foot infections

Fungal foot infections are mainly of two major types, including:

  1. Athlete’s foot:

This is also known as tinea pedis, an infection caused by some different types of fungi, including ringworm. It is contagious and easily passed through contaminated floors, towels, footwear, or clothing.

Athlete’s foot has several types depending on the location and characteristics:

  • Toe web: This is the most common form of tinea pedis, which occurs between the toes with high moisture levels. In addition to itching, you may have peeling skin and a yeasty-smelling rash.
  • Moccasin: This occurs when an athlete’s foot affects the bottom of the feet, mainly the soles, heels, and sides of the heels. It can lead to thick, scaly skin with cracking and peeling.
  • Vesicular: It causes blisters at the site of the infection. Blisters can occur anywhere, however, most often on the soles or between the toes.
  • Ulcerative: It occurs when an athlete’s foot causes a break in the skin that allows bacteria to enter and causes a painful, open sore called an ulcer along with swelling and oozing.
  1. Toenail fungus:

Generally, fungal toenail infection is known as onychomycosis, and it can occur with athlete’s foot but also occurs on its own. It is common in people with a weakened immune system or those with peripheral vascular disease.



Tinea pedis are mostly caused by dermatophyte fungi. These fungi need keratin to grow and cause infections on the skin, hair, and nails. The most common form of fungi that cause tinea pedis, including:

  • Trichophyton rubrum
  • Epidermophyton floccosum
  • Trichophyton interdigitale

Onychomycosis can be caused by these fungi, like:

  • Dermatophytes such as Trichophyton rubrum, T. interdigitale.
  • Yeasts, such as Candida albicans
  • Molds, such as Scopulariopsis brevicaulis.


You may develop many symptoms of athlete’s foot, which include:

  • Itching, stinging, and burning sensation between your toes and soles of the feet.
  • Blisters on your feet that cause itching.
  • Cracking and peeling skin on your feet (mostly happens between your toes and on your soles).
  • Dry skin on the soles or sides of your feet.
  • Raw skin on your feet.
  • Discolored, thick, and crumbly toenails.
  • Toenails that start leaving the nail bed.

Symptoms of onychomycosis can include:

  • A white or yellow streak on one side of the nail.
  • Scaling under the nail.
  • The nail end is lifting and does not securely fit to the toe or finger.
  • White spots on the nail plate.
  • Destruction of the nail
  • White spots on the nail plate
  • Discoloration of the nail.
  • A build-up of debris under the nail.
  • Nail spitting
  • Nail thickening


To diagnose an athlete’s foot, the doctor mostly examines your symptoms or may order a skin test if your doctor is not sure that a fungal infection is the cause of your symptoms. A skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam is the most common test used for an athlete’s foot. In this test, the doctor scrapes off a small area of infected skin and puts it in potassium hydroxide. Then your cells are examined under a microscope to confirm your diagnosis.

To diagnose onychomycosis, you need to take a visual examination of the toenail. Your doctor may order a KOH test to confirm the diagnosis. Tissue cultures from nail trimmings can identify your specific fungus.


Treatment options

Athlete’s foot is typically treated with over the counter (OTC) topical antifungal medications. If OTC medications don’t treat your infection, then the doctor may prescribe topical or oral prescription-strength antifungal medication. Your doctor may also recommend home treatments to clear your infection.

Your doctor may prescribe one of the OTC topical antifungal medications:

  • Miconazole
  • Terbinafine
  • Clotrimazole
  • Butenafine
  • Tolnaftate

Here are some of the prescription medications that doctor may prescribe when OTC medications don’t work for your athlete’s foot:

  • Topical, prescription-strength clotrimazole or miconazole.
  • Oral antifungal medications such as itraconazole, fluconazole, or prescription-strength terbinafine.
  • Topical steroid medications to lower painful inflammation.
  • Oral antibiotics in case bacterial infections develop due to raw skin and blisters.

For home care, the doctor may recommend you soak your feet in salt water or diluted vinegar to dry up blisters. You can also use tea tree oil for treating athlete’s feet with some success. A study from 2002 reported that a 50% solution of tea tree oil effectively treated athlete’s feet in 64% of trial participants. Before using it ask your doctor because it causes contact dermatitis in some people.

For onychomycosis, home remedies like washing the skin around the nail regularly and keeping the feet clean and dry. An old study shows that treating onychomycosis with mentholated ointments such as Vicks VapoRub, showed a positive effect in 83% of participants. Some people also think that tea tree oil helps treat nail fungus, but research on its efficacy is limited.

Topical antifungal creams work for mild infections; however, you may need to apply them many times depending on the medication. The AAD states that antifungal pills have a higher cure rate than topical creams, so a person may only need to take them for a few months.

The doctor may recommend removal of the nail if the infection is severe. A doctor does this surgically or chemically, however, with both treatment options, your nails grow back over time. Recently scientists have used lasers to treat onychomycosis. Although specialists say the procedure is safe, it can cause some pain or bleeding.


Fungal foot infections are very contagious and easily spread from person to person if you’re not careful. However, its symptoms are easily noticeable and treatable. OTC or oral medications are prescribed to treat the infections and remove the symptoms.


If you notice fungal foot infection symptoms, visit our podiatry clinic in Brooklyn for professional medical help, call to book your appointment today. Visit our podiatrist in Brooklyn to get the best treatment for your foot problems. Doral Health & Wellness employs Podiatrists with extensive education and expertise. Trauma to the tendons, muscles, and bones of the foot is quite common, as are infections secondary to systemic diseases. It’s not a good idea to put off seeing Foot Doctor Brooklyn until you’re in a lot of pain. Our address is 1797 Pitkin Avenue, New York, NY 11212. To make an appointment, please call +1-347-384-5690 or send an email to info@doralhw.org.