Can You Get Athlete’s Foot on Your Hands?

Tinea manuum is a contagious fungal infection on the hands. When the same type of fungus affects the feet, it is called athlete's foot, or tinea pedis.

Tinea manuum is rare and usually occurs when you also have athlete's foot. This is usually because the infection can spread from the feet to the hands.

This article will cover tinea manuum symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention techniques.

Itching the hand

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Tinea Manuum Symptoms

Tinea manuum is an itchy hand rash that is caused by a fungal infection. The symptoms include:

  • Itchy fingers and hands
  • Redness
  • Flaky or peeling skin
  • Ring-shaped rash

The infection can occur on one or both hands but usually only develops on one hand.

When the rash is on the back of the hand, the rash usually appears as scaly red, itchy circles. When the rash is on the palm, it appears as dry, scaly skin.

Tinea manuum symptoms start four to 14 days after contact with the infectious fungi.


Tinea manuum is caused by fungi called dermatophytes. These germs live on dead skin, hair, and nail tissues.

Tinea manuum is passed from person to person through direct contact or from contact with an item that is carrying the fungi like clothing.

These fungi thrive in warm, wet areas. Therefore, they are more abundant in showers, pool surfaces, locker rooms, and damp clothing.

Since the fungus that causes tinea manuum can also cause an infection on other parts of the body, it is not uncommon for someone to first develop athlete's foot and then get tinea manuum. Since people tend to scratch their itchy athlete's foot rash, they can transfer the fungus to their hands.


Tinea manuum can usually be diagnosed by its appearance and a person's health history. But because tinea manuum can look like other rashes, a healthcare provider or dermatologist will need to rule out the possibility that the rash is not dry skin, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis.

A healthcare provider might use KOH testing (potassium hydroxide solution), which uses small scrapes of skin to look under a microscope to determine if the rash is indeed tinea manuum.

Your healthcare provider may also send off a fungal culture to a lab to test for the fungus.

Related: How is Ringworm Diagnosed

Risk Factors

The risk factors for developing tinea manuum are:

  • Having a jock itch, ringworm, or athlete's foot infection
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Using public showers or pools
  • Experiencing excessive sweating

The main complications of tinea manuum are developing a secondary bacterial infection and spreading the fungal infection to other areas of the body.


The first step in treating tinea manuum is keeping the skin clean and dry. The fungi thrive in warm, wet conditions, so keeping the hands dry is very important.

There are several over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams that can treat tinea manuum. Look for creams that contain one of the following medications:

  • Lamisil (terbinafine)
  • Nizoral (ketoconazole)
  • Lotrimin (clotrimazole)
  • Micatin (miconazole)

A healthcare provider can prescribe stronger antifungal creams and if necessary an oral medication.

Make sure to use OTC and prescription medications as indicated on the package label or by your provider or pharmacist. Stopping too soon can cause the fungal infection to grow back.


Tinea manuum is a contagious fungal infection. It is easy to catch and to spread to other people. While it may not be possible to completely avoid an infection, these prevention techniques can help someone avoid it as best they can:

  • Wash hands with soap and water.
  • Dry hands after washing.
  • Wash hands after touching a rash on another area of the body.
  • Cut nails short and keep them clean.
  • Don't share clothes or towels with someone who has ringworm, athlete's foot, jock itch, or tinea manuum.

Pets also can have ringworm. Take them to a veterinarian if ringworm is suspected. Make sure to wash your hands and dry them after touching a pet.

When someone spreads athlete's foot to their hand, it's also referred to as two-feet one-hand syndrome. This is because the athlete's foot is generally on both feet but then only spread to one hand.


Athlete's foot is a very contagious, itchy fungal infection. When someone scratches their feet, they are at a higher risk of developing the same infection on their hands. This is because they are moving the fungi from their feet to their hands. When the athlete's foot rash is spread to one or both hands, it's called tinea manuum.

The rash can be mistaken for dry skin, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis, a form of eczema. A healthcare provider can diagnose the rash based on its appearance or with a KOH test. Treatment can be done with OTC creams or prescription medication.

A Word From Verywell

It's important to prevent spreading athlete's foot to your hands. If you do have athlete's foot, make sure to thoroughly wash and dry your hands after touching your feet. If you know someone who has a fungal skin infection, don't share clothes or towels. If you suspect that you do have tinea manuum reach out to a healthcare provider for a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does athlete's foot look like when the fungus is on hands?

    When athlete's foot on the hands (tinea manuum) is on the back of the hand it can look like dry skin. When it is on the palm of the hand it is usually red raised itchy circles.

  • Can you get athlete's foot on other parts of your body besides your hands?

    Yes, the fungus that causes athlete's foot can grow on other areas of your body. When the rash appears around the groin, it is called jock itch. When it is on the trunk, arms, and legs it is called ringworm. And when it is on the scalp it is called tinea capitis.

  • Can I use athlete's foot cream on my hands?

    Yes, you can use athlete's foot cream on the hands. But if the infection has spread to your nails the cream will not be effective. Always talk to a healthcare provider to find the best treatment for your rash.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of ringworm infections.

  2. Chamorro MJ, House SA. Tinea manuum. StatPearls.

  3. MedlinePlus. Ringworm of the body.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ringworm risk & prevention.

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.