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NHS Choices Condition

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Athlete's foot is normally a mild infection which rarely causes any complications. It also tends to be quick and easy to treat. However, it is always best to ensure that you use the appropriate treatment for athlete's foot as soon as you begin to develop symptoms. This will help minimise the risk of you developing complications.

Although rare, some of the complications that can be caused by athlete's foot are outlined below.

Bacterial infection

If your athlete's foot is more severe, you may experience cracked skin, which exposes the raw tissue underneath. It is unlikely that your fungal infection will spread to any exposed tissue, because fungi normally only grows on the surface of your skin. Bacteria, however can thrive inside the body, and may cause infection if it can enter the body through your cracked skin.


Bacteria can release substances which break down your skin and tissue. Once inside your body, bacteria can cause the infection to spread. If left untreated, a bacterial infection can potentially be very serious.

Cellulitis is a condition that is caused by a bacterial infection of the deep layers of skin, fat, and soft tissue. If left untreated, cellulitis can cause serious complications, such as blood poisoning, or the infection can spread to the bone.

Although these complications are relatively rare, it is important that cellulitis is treated quickly. Most cases of cellulitis can be effectively treated using antibiotics.

Fungal nail infection

If athlete's foot is left untreated, the infection can sometimes spread to your toenails. A fungal nail infection causes your nail to become thick, discoloured and crumbly. The skin underneath the nail (the nailbed) may also become painful and inflamed.

Most fungal nail infections can be easily treated using antifungal medication, which is either taken orally, or painted onto your nail using a special antifungal nail paint. If left untreated, a fungal nail infection can cause significant pain and discomfort, which may make it difficult for you to wear shoes, or to walk around.

view information about Athletes Foot on www.nhs.co.uk »

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