What is Tinea Pedis?

Tinea pedis, more commonly known as “athlete’s foot,” is a dermatophytic infection of the feet. It occurs in three forms:

Interdigital. This appears as scaling and maceration between the toes. It is the type frequently seen in patient’s with sweaty feet.

Diffuse plantar scaling. This appears as general scaling of the soles and sides of the feet in what has been called a “moccasin’ distribution. It is common in elderly patients. Nail involvement may be present as well.

Vesiculopustular. This form manifests as vesicles and pustules on the insteps of the feet. It is often misdiagnosed, since vesicles and pustules are an uncommon presentation of dermatophytic infections.

With what can tinea pedis  confused?

Maceration alone, without dermatophytic infection, can occur in patient’s with sweaty feet and be confused with interdigital tinea pedis. Diffuse plantar scaling secondary to tinea pedis may be mistaken for dry skin. Contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, and pustular psoriasis of the palms and soles can mimic vesiculopustular tinea pedis.

How is tinea pedis treated?

Tinea pedis is usually treated with topical antifungal medications, such as ketoconazole cream. Very severe infections, or those associated with tinea elsewhere on the body, may require oral anti-fungal medications, such as terbinafine. Once the tinea is treated, anti-fungal powder should be applied daily to prevent recurrence. If sweaty feet is a contributing factor, treatment for hyperhidrosis may be warranted.

See: Tinea Diagnosis, Treatment and Prognosis