Foot Fungus Symptoms —
The Science Behind Athlete's Foot

Not all foot fungus is the same. Find out the different causes and what they mean for your feet.

Whether you call it athlete's foot, foot fungus, or the fancier sounding tinea pedis, when your feet are itching, burning and cracking something’s wrong. How does it happen and what exactly causes it? The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is called a dermatophyte, but there are different kinds of dermatophytes that could impact the way athlete’s foot affects you.1


    t. rubrum is a commom cause of foot fungus symptoms

    The most common of the three species of dermatophytes that cause athlete’s foot is t. rubrum. Some studies suggest that it’s responsible for over two-thirds of foot fungus cases. It’s the athlete’s foot that’s easy to catch, even if you’re not an athlete. It’s extremely common in damp areas such as showers and locker rooms. Generally, t. rubrum creates foot fungus symptoms of a moccasin type athlete’s foot that affects the sole and heel of the foot.1


    t. mentagrophytes is a species of foot fungus that may be more common in athletes

    It’s never fun to find out that you’ve got athlete’s foot, but if you’ve gotten it from the strain of fungus known as t. mentagrophytes, there’s a good chance you’ve earned it through hard work. This is the kind of fungus that usually affects athletes.2 Foot fungus symptoms commonly appear as a toe web and is caused by damp sneakers or socks.3Unfortunately, the saying “no pain, no gain” doesn’t ring true when it comes to cracked and burning feet.


    e. floccosum is a rare species of foot fungus that accounts for around 5% of infections

    The rarest strain of dermatophytes that causes athlete's foot is e. floccosum. Like the other two stains, it can be picked up in warm, damp places, but unlike the much more common t. rubrum and t. mentagrophytes, e. floccosum only accounts for about 5% of the reported cases of athlete's foot.4 That being said, just because it's a rarer strain doesn't necessarily mean that it's a collector's item.

How to Fight Dermatophytes and Cure Foot Fungus Symptoms

No matter which type of dermatophyte has caused your foot fungus, it’s usually easily treatable.5 And if you have athlete’s foot caused by one of the three common strains above, then over-the-counter treatments such as LamisilAT can knock it out quickly. After the condition has cleared up, take precautionary measures such as keeping your socks and sneakers dry, wearing rubber flip flops or sandals in the locker room and shower, and using a powder such as LamisilAF Defense Powder Spray to stay ahead of foot fungus and keep your feet happy.

Myths vs Science — 5 Foot Fungus Myths Debunked

Myth 1: Only Athletes Get Athlete's Foot

Despite its name, athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection and anyone can get it. It is estimated that up to 70% of the population will have athlete's foot at some time in their lives.It got its name because the fungus responsible for athlete’s foot is commonly found in damp or wet areas such as gyms, locker rooms, around swimming pools and showers.

Myth 2: Poor Hygiene Causes Athlete’s Foot

Cleanliness alone won’t prevent athlete’s foot. You are most likely to pick up this foot fungus when taking a shower at the gym or walking around a swimming pool. Even carefully washing your feet several times a day won’t prevent or clear up the infection. Prevent athlete’s foot by keeping your feet dry, especially the areas between the toes. Always thoroughly dry your feet after each wash, and wear sandals or flip flops in public areas such swimming pools or gyms. Wearing well-ventilated shoes, sweat-absorbing socks and using LamisilAF Defense Powder Spray on your feet and shoes will help, too.

Myth 3: Athlete’s Foot Only Affects Your Feet

Athlete’s foot is contagious and can spread to other parts of the body including your hands, fingernails, body and groin. If the fungus infects your groin area, upper thighs or buttocks, it is known as jock itch. Picking and scratching the infected area and then touching other parts of your body can spread the fungus. It can also be spread by sharing towels, sheets, clothing or shoes with a person who has athlete’s foot.

Myth 4: If You Don’t Have an Itchy Red Rash, It’s Not Athlete’s Foot

Foot fungus symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people may develop red, itchy patches between their toes, while others may develop moist, white skin there instead. Many people suffer from cracking and peeling, while others may develop scaly, dry skin or blisters along their soles as a result of the foot fungus infection. If you're unsure if you have athlete’s foot, check your symptoms with your podiatrist or doctor.

Myth 5: Foot Fungus Symptoms Clear Up on Their Own

A foot fungus infection is unlikely to clear up on its own. Without treatment, athlete’s foot can spread, worsen and turn into a more serious condition. Use an antifungal cream or spray to treat athlete's foot as soon as you identify it. To ensure the foot fungus is completely killed, be certain to continue the treatment for as long as recommended, even if the symptoms of athlete’s foot disappear. While most treatments require an extensive period, only LamisilAT products are proven to cure most athlete's foot between the toes with 7 days of treatment*.

*For athlete's foot between the toes using LamisilAT Cream and Spray.

1. SARA L. NOBLE, PHARM.D., and ROBERT C. FORBES, M.D., University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, & PAMELA L. STAMM, PHARM.D, Auburn University School of Pharmacy, Auburn, Alabama. (n.d.). Diagnosis and Management of Common Tinea Infections. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

2. Adams, B. B. (2006). Sports dermatology. New York: Springer

3. University Health Service. (n.d.). Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

4. Hasan, M. A., Fitzgerald, S. M., Saoudian, M., & Krishnaswamy, G. (2004). Dermatology for the practicing allergist: Tinea pedis and its complications. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

5. Nordqvis, C. (n.d.). Athlete's Foot: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments. Retrieved December 01, 2016, from

6. (Ilkit M, Durdu M. Tinea pedis: The etiology and global epidemiology of a common fungal infection. Crit Rev Microbiol 2014;[Epub ahead of print])