Table of Contents
- Athlete's foot facts
- What is athlete's foot?
- What are the symptoms and signs of athlete's foot?
- What does athlete's foot look like?
- Is athlete's foot contagious?
- What else causes foot rashes?
- What is the treatment for athlete's foot?
- What home remedies are available for athlete's foot?
- How can I treat athlete's foot in pregnancy?
- When should I seek medical care?
- What are possible complications of athlete's foot?
- What kind of doctor treats athlete's foot?
- How can I prevent future athlete's foot infections?
Quick GuideFungus Among Us: What to Know About Fungal Infections in Pictures
What is the treatment for athlete's foot?
The treatment of athlete's foot can be divided into two parts. The first, and most important part, is to make the correct diagnosis. Is it caused by a fungus, or is the rash produced by a noninfectious skin disease?
Occlusive shoe materials, such as vinyl, cause the feet to remain moist, providing an excellent area for the fungus to breed. Likewise, absorbent socks like cotton that wick water away from your feet may help.
Powders, especially medicated powders (such as with miconazole [Lotrimin] or tolnaftate [Tinactin]), can help keep your feet dry. Finally, your feet can be soaked in a drying solution of aluminum acetate (Burow's solution or Domeboro solution). A homemade remedy of dilute white vinegar soaks, using one part vinegar and roughly four parts water, once or twice a day as 10-minute foot soaks may aid in treatment.
The second part of treatment is the use of antifungal creams and washes. Many medications are available, including miconazole, econazole nitrate (Spectazole), clotrimazole (Lotrimin), terbinafine (Lamisil) sprays and creams, and ketoconazole shampoo and cream (Nizoral), etc. Ask your health-care professional or pharmacist for a recommendation. Treatment for athlete's foot should generally be continued for four weeks or at least one week after all of the skin symptoms have cleared.
More advanced or resistant cases of athlete's foot may require a course of an oral (pill) antifungal like terbinafine (Lamisil), itraconazole (Sporanox), or fluconazole (Diflucan). Laboratory blood tests to make sure there is no liver disease may be required before taking these pills.
Topical corticosteroid creams are used to treat non-fungal athlete's foot but can act as a fertilizer for fungus and may actually encourage the spread of the infection. These topical steroid medications have no role in treating fungal foot infections.
If the fungal infection has spread to the toenails, the nails must also be treated to avoid reinfection of the feet. Often, the nails are initially ignored only to find the athlete's foot keeps recurring. It is important to treat all the visible fungus at the same time. Effective nail fungus treatment may be more intensive and require prolonged courses (three to four months) of oral antifungal medications.
Freedberg, Irwin M., et al. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 5th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 1999.
Purim, Kátia Sheylla Malta, and Neiva Leite. "Sports-related dermatoses among road runners in Southern Brazil." An Bras Dermatol 89.4 (2014): 587-592.
Tlougan, B.E., Mancini, A.J., Mandell, J.A., Cohen, D.E., and Sanchez, M.R. "Skin conditions in figure skaters, ice-hockey players and speed skaters: part II - cold-induced, infectious and inflammatory dermatoses." Sports Med 41.11 Nov. 1, 2011: 967-984.