a man with athletes foot

Athlete's Foot vs. Dry Skin: What's the Difference?

Athlete's foot and dry skin have very similar symptoms, including roughness of the skin, flaking, scaling, or peeling, redness, and cracking that can sometimes lead to bleeding. The differences typically begin to present themselves with more severe cases of athlete’s foot.

The rash and peeling associated with athlete’s foot tends to have a moccasin distribution, meaning that there will be a ring of dry skin around your heel, both sides of your foot, and in between your toes. The biggest telltale sign of athlete’s foot is the dryness moving into the spaces between your toes, as this is abnormal for people who just have dry skin.  If burning and tingling are present however, it is more likely to be athlete’s foot.

It is important to be able to distinguish between these two conditions since athlete’s foot is so contagious. Being a fungal infection, it is important to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Treating athlete’s foot requires antifungal medications, while dry skin is usually treated with over-the-counter moisturizers. Though dry skin can be uncomfortable, it is virtually harmless when compared to a case of athlete’s foot. 

Last Updated: November 16, 2015

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