Athlete’s Foot (Chilblains): Remedies, Treatment and Symptoms


What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot ( Tinea pedis ), or foot chilblains, is the most well-known ringworm in the world. It lodges in the feet, between the toes, on the sides, on the sole and even on the nails, and is characterized by blisters or cracks. The infection is mainly caused by fungi. Despite having the name athlete’s foot, anyone can have the problem.

Chilblains are curable, but sometimes treatment is done for weeks with ointments and remedies recommended by the specialist doctor.

At the beginning of the infection, the signs are not so clear, and may raise doubts, but over time, the symptoms usually appear.

Types of Athlete’s Foot

Different from what people think, there are three types of athlete’s foot: the moccasin, interdigital and also the vesicular.


Its characteristics are the thick and inflamed skin and also the peeling. It usually affects the heel, the sides of the feet, the plant and has the shape of a moccasin (hence the name).


The second type is the interdigital, the most common among athlete’s feet. It develops between the fingers, hence the name, but it can still advance to the upper and lower parts of the fingers.


The vesicular is the last and least common type, but the most serious. Symptoms usually have blisters on the chest and the sole of the foot. These blisters can be small or large, which form painful sores on the feet.

Causes and transmission

The problem is contagious and happens with direct skin-to-skin contact, or through already contaminated places, such as swimming pools, bathrooms, saunas, showers, towels, floors, shoes.

Hot and humid environments are conducive to the development of fungi, using wet socks and sneakers can also increase the chance of contracting the problem.

Walking barefoot on the beach, or in changing rooms, is enough to be contaminated with athlete’s foot. It is always recommended to use leather slippers to avoid contact with the fungus.

If someone in your family has athlete’s foot, you need to be very careful with the shower box, carpets, towels and floors in the house, as they may be infected.

Risk factors

Patients who have low immunity are more prone to the problem, in addition, these patients have a higher risk of contracting athlete’s foot:

  • Obese;
  • Use of closed shoes or wet socks;
  • Use of plastic shoes;
  • Diabetics;
  • Traumatized patients;
  • Patients with immunosuppression problems;
  • Patients who are athletes and sweat on their feet;
  • Men have more athlete’s foot than women.

Myths and truths about Athlete’s Foot

When it comes to athlete’s foot, many doubts are common and several myths are taken for granted. Here we will unravel some of the myths in which society believes and passes on without any basis.

Only athletes have athlete’s foot

False. Athletes are more likely to have the problem due to several factors: they sweat on their feet, keep their socks wet, share showers in the locker rooms and, therefore, have a high risk of having the problem. But it’s not just them, ordinary people can also be infected.

Athlete’s foot does not bring serious problems

False. If the problem is not taken care of properly, bacterial infections and allergic reactions can arise.

Who has athlete’s foot does not have proper hygiene

False. Even with all the care taken, it is possible that the person is infected with athlete’s foot. This usually occurs when immunity is low.

Only men are diagnosed with athlete’s foot

False. Athlete’s foot can appear in both men and women, but men are the ones who suffer most from the problem.

The disease is acquired by contacting it

False. Whoever is in contact with the disease has chances of contracting, because the disease is contagious, but it is not a rule. To avoid the problem, following the prevention tips will decrease the chances of infection.

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Usually, the first symptom is itching and redness of the skin. Then, other symptoms may appear, such as:

  • Bad smell coming from the feet;
  • Ardor;
  • Inflammation and redness;
  • Whitish skin;
  • Fragile skin;
  • Flaking skin;
  • Cracks in the skin;
  • Bubbles.

The infection can affect only one or both feet. The nails can also be affected, becoming thick, with a white or brown color and brittle. If the infected person scratches his feet with his hands, the infection may rise.

Moccasin-like symptoms

  • Dryness of the skin, irritation, scaly skin, itching and pain;
  • Progression to scaling of the heel and sole, cracks, thickened skin;
  • Infected nails, which may thicken, disintegrate and even fall.

Interdigital type symptoms

  • Itching and pain;
  • Bad smell;
  • Peels, cracks and scaly skin may appear.

Vesicular type symptoms

  • Blisters with liquid inside the skin are very common and can appear in different parts of the body;
  • Infections can arise with scaly skin between rashes;
  • Bacterial infections can arise.


The doctors indicated to treat the problem are dermatologists, infectologists and general practitioners. If you have the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to make an appointment for the doctor to indicate the correct treatment.

There, the doctor will ask usual questions, such as:

  • What are the symptoms?
  • When did they appear?
  • How often do you change shoes?

After the conversation, the doctor will analyze the foot, the wounds and, in most cases, only with observation will he tell you if your problem is athlete’s foot or not. If it is not possible to diagnose, he can examine with the black light or Wood’s light. It is still possible that he will take samples and analyze them under a microscope or send them to the laboratory for analysis.


Treatment can be done in two different ways. If ringworm is recent, over-the-counter antifungal ointments, lotions or powders may be enough to cure the problem. If athlete’s foot is not cured with this treatment, antibiotics and oral antifungals can be used.

Medicines and ointments used to treat athlete’s foot

  • Canesten ;
  • Vodol ;
  • Daktazol ;
  • Ciconazol;
  • Micosil ;
  • Ceremil;
  • Miconazole nitrate ;
  • Candoral;
  • Capel.

Although several drugs are mentioned, it is always advisable to consult a doctor before using them. Only the doctor will know the best for you. Don’t self-medicate.

Anti-inflammatory drugs may still be needed if there is pain and inflammation in the skin.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living with the problem

Keep your feet clean, change your socks regularly, change the floors, carpets, towels regularly at home to avoid the problem. In addition, flip-flops should also be worn when attending public places, such as swimming pools, changing rooms, saunas.

Washing your feet and drying them constantly is important. If these precautions are not enough, it is necessary to consult the doctor so that he can better guide you and your family.

  • Wear shoes with good ventilation;
  • Change socks frequently;
  • Do not apply creams and talc without medical advice;
  • Observe the toenails.


If athlete’s foot is not treated properly, major problems can arise, such as:

  • Bacterial infections;
  • Linfangite e linfadenite;
  • Athlete’s foot may return.


To prevent the problem, wearing comfortable leather shoes with good ventilation is very recommended. In addition, using dryers or antifungals after using bathrooms, saunas or public pools can avoid the problem.

Changing shoes daily can still help the foot to “breathe”. This is suitable for adults and also for children. Parents should pay attention to the feet of the little ones too, and never forget to dry their feet, to avoid the problem.