Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

[Previous Feature][Next Feature]

This Week - A : Athletes Foot

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection that affects the feet. You can usually treat it with creams, sprays or powders from a pharmacy, but it can keep coming back.

Symptoms of athlete's foot

One of the main symptoms of athlete's foot is itchy white patches between your toes.

It can also cause sore and flaky patches on your feet.

The skin can look red, but this may be less noticeable on brown or black skin.

Sometimes the skin on your feet may become cracked or bleed.

Other symptoms

Athlete's foot can also affect your soles or sides of your feet. It sometimes causes fluid-filled blisters.

If it's not treated, the infection can spread to your toenails and cause a fungal nail infection.

A pharmacist can help with athlete's foot

Athlete's foot is unlikely to get better on its own, but you can buy antifungal medicines for it from a pharmacy. They usually take a few weeks to work.

Athlete's foot treatments are available as:

  • creams
  • sprays
  • powders

They're not all suitable for everyone - for example, some are only for adults. Always check the packet or ask a pharmacist.

You might need to try a few treatments to find one that works best for you.

Find a pharmacy

Things you can do if you have athlete's foot

You can keep using some pharmacy treatments to stop athlete's foot coming back.

It's also important to keep your feet clean and dry. You do not need to stay off work or school.


  • dry your feet after washing them, particularly between your toes - dab them dry rather than rubbing them

  • use a separate towel for your feet and wash it regularly

  • wear clean socks every day - cotton socks are best


  • do not scratch affected skin - this can spread it to other parts of your body

  • do not walk around barefoot - wear flip-flops in places like changing rooms and showers

  • do not share towels, socks or shoes with other people

  • do not wear the same pair of shoes for more than 2 to 3 days in a row

  • do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty


Keep following this advice after finishing treatment to help stop athlete's foot coming back.

See a GP if:

You have athlete's foot and:

  • treatments from a pharmacy do not work
  • you're in a lot of pain
  • your foot or leg is hot, painful and red (the redness may be less noticeable on brown or black skin) - this could be a more serious infection
  • the infection spreads to other parts of your body such as your hands
  • you have diabetes - foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
  • you have a weakened immune system - for example, you have had an organ transplant or are having chemotherapy

Treatment for athlete's foot from a GP

If you have athlete's foot and treatments from a pharmacy have not worked, a GP may:

  • send a small scraping of skin from your feet to a laboratory to check you have athlete's foot
  • prescribe a steroid cream to use alongside antifungal cream
  • prescribe antifungal tablets - you might need to take these for several weeks
  • refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) for more tests and treatment if needed

How you get athlete's foot

You can catch athlete's foot from other people with the infection.

You can get it by:

  • walking barefoot in places where someone else has athlete's foot - especially changing rooms and showers
  • touching the affected skin of someone with athlete's foot

You're more likely to get it if you have wet or sweaty feet, or if the skin on your feet is damaged.

[Previous Feature][Next Feature]
We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.


search | site info | site map | new this week | outuk offers | home | outspoken | more



  UK gay lads | Gay news UK | Gay travel and holidays UK | UK & London gay scene

OutUK features the latest gay news, advice, entertainment and information together with gay guides to cities and holiday destinations around the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. There are hundreds of galleries of photos and videos of the sexiest gay guys plus intimate personal profiles of thousands of gay lads from all around the UK.