Children & Adolescents Clinic

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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis) (for Teenagers)


  • A red, scaly, cracked rash occurs between the toes.
  • The rash itches and burns.
  • With scratching the rash becomes raw and weepy.
  • The rash often spreads to the instep.
  • The foot has an unpleasant odor.
  • It mainly occurs in adolescents.

Similar condition: Cracked Skin


Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus that grows best on warm, damp skin.


With proper treatment, athlete's foot usually clears in 2 to 3 weeks.


  1. Antifungal cream

    Buy Lotrimin, Tinactin, or Micatin cream at your drugstore. You won't need a prescription.

    First, rinse your feet in plain water or water with a little white vinegar added. Dry your feet carefully, especially between the toes. Then apply the cream to the rash and well beyond its borders twice a day. Continue applying the antifungal cream for several weeks, or for at least 7 days after the rash seems to have cleared. Successful treatment often takes 3 or 4 weeks.

  2. Dryness

    Athlete's foot improves dramatically if the feet are kept dry. It helps to go barefoot or wear sandals or thongs as much as possible. Wear shoes that allow the feet to breathe. Wear cotton socks because the cotton absorbs sweat and keeps the feet dry. Change socks twice a day. Dry the feet thoroughly after baths and showers.

  3. Foot odor

    The feet often stop smelling bad when the athlete's foot improves. Rinsing your feet and changing socks twice a day are essential. If that doesn't work, rinse the feet in a basin of warm water containing 1 ounce of vinegar. If odor is still a problem, wash your tennis shoes in the washing machine with some soap and bleach.

  4. Avoid scratching

    Scratching infected feet will delay a cure.

  5. Contagiousness

    The condition is not easily passed from person to person but is thought to be spread by direct contact with contaminated surfaces such as locker room or bathroom floors. The fungus won't grow on dry, normal skin.


  • It looks infected.
  • The athlete's foot is not improved in 1 week.
  • It is not completely cured after using this treatment for 4 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems