Feet in the showerPhoto: uduhunt (Shutterstock)

Flaky, itchy skin between your toes is the classic sign of athlete’s foot. This fungal infection can often be treated with over-the-counter ointments, but there are a few things you should know before you start.

Make sure it’s only on your feet

The fungus that causes the athlete’s foot can appear elsewhere on your body as well. In the groin it says jock itch; on other parts of the body it is usually referred to as ringworm. Ringworm is not a worm, just a term for fungi that like to eat the top layer of our skin. (Sometimes it starts small and spreads outward in a ring.)

The The American Academy of Dermatology points this out If you have infections in more than one part of your body – let’s say you have athlete’s foot and a ringworm spot on your arm – it is unlikely that any one of them will be effective. You need to treat all of the ringworm to get rid of it completely.

If large areas of skin are affected, you may need oral medications or prescription drugs. Therefore, consult a doctor. Ringworm on the nails, scalp, or beard area also requires prescription treatment.

G / O Media can receive a commission

Illustration for article titled How To Get Rid Of Athlete's Foot

Make sure you have athlete’s foot

If you’ve had athlete’s foot before you may know exactly what it looks like, but it’s important to know that other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis can be very similar to athlete’s foot. When in doubt, get a real diagnosis rather than relying on Dr. Quit google.

Correct identification is important as these conditions are often treated in opposition. For example, hydrocortisone cream helps with eczema, but can make the athlete’s foot worse.

Get an antifungal treatment

Fortunately, there are over-the-counter treatments that work well for athlete’s foot and other types of ringworm. Topical antifungal creams often contain clotrimazole or terbinafine as active ingredients.

Follow the directions and continue treatment (whether it is a cream or a pill) for as long as recommended. As with antibiotics, if you stop too soon, the infection can come back.

Wash your hands

After touching your feet or using the antifungal drugs, wash your hands to make sure you do not pass the fungus on to other parts of the body or anyone else.

Illustration for article titled How To Get Rid Of Athlete's Foot

Keep your feet clean and dry

It’s worth thinking about how you came across an athlete’s foot (or ringworm) in the first place. The fungus can be transmitted from person to person and thrives in humid environments.

While it’s associated with showers and locker rooms, the showers themselves aren’t always to blame. Athletes spend a lot of time in sweaty clothes and come into contact with other sweaty people when they practice contact sports. You can also pick up the fungus from the dirt outside.

Yes, you can theoretically pick up the fungus from a locker room floor, but you are much less likely to get infected if you make sure of it Dry your feet thoroughly before putting your socks and shoes back on. Remember, the fungus likes warm, humid environments, so a wet foot hastily shoved into a sock makes a perfect breeding ground.