Tinea Pedis
VA Rating

Tinea pedis, more commonly known as athlete’s foot, is a skin condition in the feet that can become severe enough to cause disabilities. You may qualify for a tinea pedis VA disability rating entitling you to compensation if your condition is connected to your military service either directly or secondary to another service-connected condition. If you are a veteran with tinea pedis that affects your daily activities, contact Veterans Guide today for help filing a VA claim.

Key Takeaways
  • Tinea pedis, commonly known as athlete’s foot, can be severe and disabling, potentially affecting a veteran’s daily activities.
  • The VA rates tinea pedis based on the extent of the infection and the required treatments, with ratings ranging from 0, 10, 30 or 60%.
  • Tinea pedis can spread and lead to other serious infections if left untreated, making prompt medical attention and proper documentation crucial for VA claims.
  • Veterans Guide can assist with filing initial or secondary VA claims for tinea pedis, including gathering necessary evidence and navigating the VA’s process.

You may qualify for VA disability for tinea pedis if you contracted the condition during your military service or later as a result of a service-connected injury or illness. The VA assigns a disability rating for tinea pedis at 0, 10, 30, or 60 percent, depending on how much of the body is affected, whether you require systemic treatment, and for how long.

Tinea pedis is a fungal infection that causes skin lesions that burn, itch, and flake like dry skin. It can also cause open wounds that lead to other infections. It is highly contagious and can spread to the opposite foot and other body parts. Tinea pedis can range in severity from an annoyance to a disabling condition. If you are suffering from tinea pedis and there is any connection to your military service, Veterans Guide may be able to help you obtain VA disability for your condition.

Veterans and Tinea Pedis

Tinea pedis is known as athlete’s foot because it thrives in warm, damp environments, such as enclosed footwear, locker rooms, and shared shower facilities. It spreads through contaminated surfaces and contact with infected people. Damp or sweaty feet in enclosed shoes allow the fungus to multiply after exposure. Military personnel commonly live under these types of conditions. However, the following circumstances increase the risk of contracting tinea pedis:

  • Service in warm, humid climates
  • The need for heavy-duty combat boots and shoes
  • The necessity of wearing the same boots or shoes for extended periods
  • Reduced immunity during combat
  • Close quarters with other personnel

Does Tinea Pedis Go Away on Its Own?

Tinea pedis generally does not resolve on its own. It typically starts as a scaly rash between the toes, often resulting in intense itching and burning.

Without treatment, it can cause the skin to break down, leading to blisters and open sores. It can spread to the bottom of the foot and the other foot through physical contact or by using the same towel for both feet, walking on contaminated floors, and sleeping in contaminated sheets.

The Spread of the Tinea Fungus

Untreated tinea pedis can also spread to other parts of the body. This can occur when you scratch the infected foot and then touch other areas of your body. The most vulnerable body parts are those areas susceptible to moisture, which the fungus needs to grow. When the fungus that causes tinea pedis occurs elsewhere in the body, the name of the infection changes, although the fungus is still the same.

Tinea pedis can lead to the following fungal infections in the body:

  • Tinea cruris – Jock itch, a fungal infection of the groin
  • Tinea capitis – Scalp ringworm, a fungal infection of the scalp
  • Tinea unguium or onychomycosis – Infection of the toenails or fingernails
  • Tinea corporis – Ringworm on the body or face, most commonly in skin folds

Complications of Tinea Pedis

Sores from tinea pedis can develop bacterial infections, which could be serious for people with compromised immune function or Type 2 diabetes. Bacterial infections can become systemic and lead to more serious conditions, such as sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

Tinea infections can also lead to a condition known as kerion—a large, painful, swollen sore over the infected area. They can also cause swollen lymph nodes and rashes throughout the body.

Tinea pedis can cause unpleasant odors, making social situations challenging. It can also make walking difficult when sores and lesions occur on the bottom of the feet or wounds between the toes become severe enough.

Tinea Pedis Treatment

Tinea pedis sometimes goes away with over-the-counter antifungal creams or prescription creams. However, the infection can resist treatment, especially if it has spread to the toenails or bottom of the foot. In these cases, you may need systemic treatments—usually taken orally—to fight the infection internally.

Oral antifungal medications can cause the following side effects, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin fare-ups
  • Liver damage
  • Anaphylaxis

Some fungus infections are resistant to treatment, which may allow the condition to persist or necessitate progressively stronger medications.

How Does the VA Rate Tinea Pedis?

Athlete’s foot VA ratings are based on the agency’s general rating formula for the skin. The condition is rated as follows:

  • 60 percent rating – Must exhibit at least one of the following: Infection involving more than 40 percent of the body or exposed areas; or continual or nearly continual systemic treatment required for at least the last 12 months
  • 30 percent rating – Infection covering 20 to 40 percent of the entire body or the exposed parts or that has required systemic treatment for at least six weeks during the past 12 months
  • 10 percent rating – Infection covering five to 19 percent of the exposed parts of the body or that required systemic treatments for less than six weeks during the past 12 months
  • 0 percent rating – Infection covering less than five percent of the entire body or exposed areas of the body and only required topical treatments during the last 12 months

If you require systemic treatment, such as oral medications or injections to control your tinea pedis, you may be eligible for compensation even if the infection is still isolated to your feet.

Bilateral Tinea Pedis Rating

The VA often gives higher disability ratings when a condition affects both sides of the body. Having tinea pedis in both feet can make walking difficult, especially if you have a persistent case requiring systemic treatment. While there is no automatic increase in rating for having a tinea pedis infection in both feet, the VA will consider how this impacts your overall function.

Want to Increase Your VA Rating?

Tinea Pedis as a Secondary VA Rating

Many health conditions connected to military service can cause or aggravate other conditions. When this occurs, you may be able to receive a separate rating for the secondary condition.

One of the most common conditions that can lead to chronic athlete’s foot or aggravate it is diabetes mellitus. If you have already received a disability rating for diabetes—even if it is zero percent—you may be eligible for a combined rating for tinea pedis even if it developed many years after discharge.

To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. A disability rating for another condition
  2. Medical records verifying that the service-connected condition caused or aggravated your athlete’s foot
  3. A case of tinea pedis that meets the VA’s criteria for a disability rating

How Much Will Secondary Tinea Pedis Increase My Disability Rating?

In some cases, the secondary condition can result in a higher disability rating than the primary condition. If you qualify for a disability rating for tinea pedis as a secondary condition, you will receive a combined disability rating. In determining this rating, the VA will consider your efficiency regarding each condition. Efficiency is the VA’s measurement of how your disability affects your ability to work and perform daily activities.

The VA’s formula for determining the combined rating involves more than simply totaling the ratings. For example, a rating of 20 percent disability for one condition and 30 percent for another does not mean you will have a combined disability rating of 50 percent. Your disability rating will generally be lower than the sum of your two separate ratings.

Our 2024 VA disability calculator can help you determine how much tinea pedis may impact your disability rating when combined with other conditions.

File a VA Claim for Tinea Pedis

Whether you need to file an initial or secondary claim for tinea pedis, the claims process works essentially the same. You can apply online, in person at your nearest VA regional office, by fax, or by mail. While the VA accepts claims with or without supporting evidence, you can strengthen your claim by providing as much evidence as possible. You will need evidence of the following:

  • Your DD-214
  • Information about your service history
  • A complete medical history
  • Test results
  • Treatment and prescription records

Your medical records should include a nexus letter, which is a letter from your doctor that explicitly states that your tinea pedis is connected to your military service or is a secondary condition stemming from another service-connected injury or illness. Your medical records must show what type of treatment you are receiving, especially systemic treatments you have received during the last 12 months.

You may also be able to strengthen your claim by providing a written statement by a close friend or family member describing how your athlete’s foot affects your daily life. This is known as a buddy statement.

Let Veterans Guide Help with Your Tinea Pedis Disability Claim

The VA’s bureaucracy and documentation requirements can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to deal with the VA on your own. We can help you file your claim, appeal a denial, or increase your VA disability benefits.

Contact us online or call (888) 982-1009 to schedule a free consultation about your tinea pedis VA rating.

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