Athlete's foot


Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that affects the feet. You can usually treat it with creams, sprays or powders from a pharmacy, but it can keep coming back.

Check if you have athlete's foot

Symptoms of athlete's foot include:

  • Itchy white patches between your toes
  • Red, sore and flaky patches on your feet
  • Skin that may crack and bleed

It can also affect your soles or sides of your feet. If it's not treated, it can spread to your toenails and cause a fungal nail infection.

Athlete's foot sometimes causes fluid-filled blisters.

A pharmacist can help with athlete's foot

Athlete's Foot is unlikely to get better on its own, but Athletes Foot is one of the conditions covered by the Common Ailments Scheme which is an NHS service that patients can access for free advice and free treatment and is available from 99% of pharmacies in Wales. 
Find your nearest pharmacy. 
Find out more information on the service

You can also buy antifungal medicines for it from a pharmacy. They usually take a few weeks to work. 

Athlete's foot treatments are available as:

  • creams
  • sprays
  • powders

They're not all suitable for everyone – for example, some are only for adults. Always check the packet or ask a pharmacist.

You might need to try a few treatments to find one that works best for you.

Find a pharmacy here.

How you can help treat and prevent athlete's foot yourself

You can keep using some pharmacy treatments to stop athlete's foot coming back.

It's also important to keep your feet clean and dry. You don't need to stay off work or school.


  • dry your feet after washing them, particularly between your toes - dab them dry rather than rubbing them
  • use a seperate towel for your feet and wash it regularly
  • take your shoes off when at home
  • wear clean socks every day - cotton socks are the best


  • do not scratch affected skin – this can spread it to other parts of your body
  • do not walk around barefoot – wear flip-flops in places like changing rooms and showers
  • do not share towels, socks or shoes with other people
  • do not wear the same pair of shoes for more than 2 days in a row
  • do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty


Keep following this advice after finishing treatment to help stop athlete's foot coming back.

See a GP if:

  • treatments from a pharmacy don't work
  • you're in a lot of discomfort
  • your foot is red, hot and painful - this could be a more serious infection
  • you have diabetes - foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
  • you have a weakened immune system - for example, you've had an organ transplant or are having chemotherapy

Treatment from a GP

Your GP may:

  • send a small scraping of skin from your feet to a laboratory to check if you have athlete's foot
  • prescribe a steroid cream to use alongside antifungal cream
  • prescribe antifungal tablets - you might need to take these for several weeks
  • refer you to a specialist called a dermatologist for more tests and treatment if needed

How you get athlete's foot

You can catch athlete's foot from other people with the infection.

You can get it by:

  • walking barefoot in places where someone else has athlete's foot - especially changing rooms and showers
  • touching the affected skin of someone with athlete's foot

You're more likely to get it if you have wet or sweaty feet, or if the skin on your feet is damaged.


The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 30/11/2022 10:11:19