Athlete's Foot - Treatment

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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 infected area less suitable for the athlete's foot fungus to grow. This means keeping the area clean and dry.

Buy shoes that are leather or another breathable material. 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 two- to three-week 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.

  • Terbinafine: 250 mg once a day for two weeks
  • Itraconazole: 100 mg twice a day for two weeks
  • Fluconazole: 100 mg once weekly for two to three weeks

Topical corticosteroid creams can act as a fertilizer for fungus and may actually worsen fungal skin infections. 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.

Return to Athlete's Foot

See what others are saying

Comment from: itchy feet, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 29

Everyone in my family seems to be vulnerable to fungal infections of various kinds. I have had athlete's foot almost continuously since high school or younger (I'm 48 now.) Chlorine seems to knock it down pretty well (though I don't think it's ever really cured). I discovered this when I would super chlorinate (shock) my swimming pool with a product called Burn Out, which has to be pre-dissolved in a bucket of water. It has all kinds of warnings about not getting it on your skin, but some is bound to spill. I discovered by accident that it beat down the fungus. After that, I started deliberately dipping my feet in the bucket and then rinsing it off after 30-60 seconds. I have also used a solution of about one part household bleach to two parts water. It's strong stuff! But I've never been burned, and it does manage the fungus.

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Comment from: Elizabeth, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

I had an awful case of moccasin athlete's foot on one foot that had spread to my toe nails. I tried all the OTC creams and could not get rid of it. I thought I would eventually have to take the oral medication, but the side effects sounded awful. I read an article on a "natural health" website that said to soak in apple cider vinegar. I bought a 99 cent bottle of apple cider vinegar and swabbed my foot and nails with a paper towel dipped in the vinegar morning and night. I also used the Vicks as it was very soothing. It took a year, but the fungus is gone, even in the nails. This really works! Good luck!

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