Despite its name, ringworm is actually a type of fungal infection. And yes, you can get it on your feet.

About 300 types of fungi have the potential to infect people, and ringworm is one of the most common. Ringworm is highly contagious and can be passed back and forth between humans and animals.

Dog and cat owners, people with weak immune systems, and children all have an increased risk for contracting it. Even though ringworm can be a nuisance, it’s rarely a serious problem.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the symptoms of this fungus, how it’s treated, and how to prevent getting it on your feet.

A foot ringworm infection is also called tinea pedis, or more commonly, athlete’s foot. It’s thought that about 15 percent of the world’s population has a fungal foot infection.

Ringworm most commonly affects the soles of your feet, between your toes, and around your toenails. The symptoms can range in severity from mild to very uncomfortable.

Some of the specific symptoms of ringworm of the foot include:

  • itching, burning, or stinging between your toes or on your soles
  • itchy blisters
  • cracking skin between your toes or on your soles
  • dry skin on your soles or sides of your feet
  • raw skin
  • discolored and crumbling toenails
  • unpleasant foot odor

Ringworm can appear on all areas of your feet. Here are some pictures of what it looks like.

Athletes are particularly prone to athlete’s foot since the fungus often lives on moist surfaces, like locker room floors. Athletes are also prone to ringworm of the groin, referred to as jock itch.

Men and teenagers have the highest risk for developing foot ringworm.

People with ringworm on their feet also often develop it on the palms of their hands from touching the affected area.

If you think you may have ringworm, it’s a good idea to first see a doctor so they can rule out other skin conditions that may have similar symptoms.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose ringworm after a visual examination of your feet. They may also scrape off a small section of the infection to send to a laboratory for confirmation.

Ringworm isn’t serious, but it can be persistent. With proper treatment, it usually goes away within about 2 weeks. The most common treatment option is an over-the-counter (OTC) fungal cream, spray, gel, or powder.

If your ringworm doesn’t respond to an OTC treatment option, your doctor might recommend a prescription medication.

Home remedies for foot ringworm

Several home remedies are commonly used for ringworm. These remedies rely mostly on anecdotal evidence and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for an OTC fungal cream.

It’s a good idea to consult your doctor before using the following treatment options to make sure they complement prescribed medical treatment:

  • Apple cider vinegar. Apply apple cider vinegar-soaked cotton balls to the affected area three times per day.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Apply hydrogen peroxide to the fungus twice per day until it’s gone. Hydrogen peroxide is a known fungus killer.
  • Coconut oil. Coconut oil has antifungal properties and may help kill ringworm and moisturize your skin. You can apply coconut oil to your feet three times per day.
  • Tea tree oil. A 2002 study found that the daily application of tea tree oil could help relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot within a couple weeks.

You may develop ringworm on your feet if you come in contact with the fungus while your feet are wet or damp.

Here are some ways to prevent ringworm:

  • Wear flip-flops in public showers or locker rooms.
  • Wash your feet regularly with soap.
  • Avoid sharing socks or shoes.
  • Completely dry your feet before putting on your socks or shoes.
  • Change your socks when they become moist or damp.

It’s also a good idea to avoid touching your foot when treating a ringworm infection. It’s possible that the infection can spread to your hands.

You can contract ringworm on almost any part of your body. When it affects your feet, it’s commonly called athlete’s foot.

OTC or prescription antifungal creams are the most common treatment options for foot ringworm. Antifungal medications are often effective, but in more serious cases your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength option.

Ringworm often lives in damp and moist environments, like on the floors of locker rooms. Avoiding direct contact with the floor of public showers and changing rooms is one of the best ways to avoid getting ringworm.