Most cases of athlete's foot are barely noticeable with just slightly dry, flaky skin. More extensive athlete's foot may look like red, peeling, dry skin areas on one or both soles of the feet. Sometimes the dry flakes may spread onto the sides and tops of the feet. Most commonly, the rash is localized to just the bottoms of the feet. The space between the fourth and fifth toes also may have some moisture, peeling, and dry flakes.
There are three common types of athlete's foot:
- soles of the feet, also called "moccasin" type
- between the toes, also called "interdigital" type
- and inflammatory type or blistering
Unusual cases may look like small or large blisters of the feet (called bullous tinea pedis), thick patches of dry, red skin, or calluses with redness. Sometimes, it may look like just mild dry skin without any redness or inflammation.
Athlete's foot may present as a rash on one or both feet and even involve the hand. A "two feet and one palm" presentation is a very common presentation of athlete's foot, especially in men. Hand fungal infections are called tinea manuum. The exact cause of why the infection commonly only affects one hand is not known.
Athlete's foot may also be seen along with ringworm of the groin (especially in men) or hand(s). It is helpful to examine the feet whenever there is a fungal groin rash called tinea cruris. It is important to treat all areas of fungal infection at one time to avoid re-infection. Simply treating the soles and ignoring the concurrent fungal infection of toenails may result in recurrences of athlete's foot. It is important to evaluate and address all potential sources of fungal infection.
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