Athlete's Foot Medicine

Athlete's foot, or medically referred to as tinea pedis, is a type of fungal infection that usually affects the area between the toes. This common condition often affects people whose feet are very sweaty, especially when squeezed within tight-fitting shoes. This type of infection is contagious and can give you a scaly and itchy rash that also stings and burns. Fortunately, medicines for athlete's foot are available in most pharmacies.

Athlete's Foot Medicine

For mild cases of athlete's foot, your doctor may recommend using over-the-counter athlete’s foot medicine in the form of antifungal lotions, ointments, powders or sprays. However, if your infection does not improve, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication to apply on your feet. In addition, oral medications may be required to treat severe infections.

Over-The-Counter Product

Many medications used to treat athlete's foot can be bought without prescription or over-the-counter. These include tolnaftate (Tinactin), clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), miconazole (Micatin), and terbinafine (Lamisil). They are effective in 70-80% of cases. In addition, tolnaftate powder or spray can also help prevent athlete’s foot. These over-the-counter athlete’s foot medicines are available in many forms, including lotions, creams, powders and sprays. You can start with cream, ointment, or lotion, and you may use powder if your infection is mild.

Apply to clean dry feet 2 times daily for at least 4 weeks. Be sure to apply the medication between the toes. Consult your doctor if your symptoms worsen or do not improve.

Prescription Medication

  1. Topical antifungals

If your non-prescription athlete’s foot medicine does not work within a few weeks, you may need prescription-strength topical antifungals to be applied directly on the affected skin. These include drugs like butenafine (Mentax), naftifine (Naftin), and clotrimazole. While all of them are similarly effective, some work faster, taking only 1-2 weeks; whereas others may take up to 8 weeks to kick in. The fast-acting types are more expensive, but with them you use less for the treatment to be curative.

  1. Oral antifungals

Oral medications for athlete's foot are usually reserved for severe infections or when topical antifungal preparations do not cure the infection. These prescription medicines kill or slow the growth of fungi. They are usually taken for 1-8 weeks. Be sure to take them as instructed because if you stop taking them too early when your symptoms improve, your infection will most likely return. Oral athlete’s foot medicines include:

  • Oral allylamines: terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • Oral azoles: fluconazole (Diflucan) and itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Other antifungals: griseofulvin  (Gris-PEG)

Common side effects of these medications include stomach upset and diarrhea. You may need to have your blood checked for liver or kidney dysfunction while taking oral athlete’s foot medicines. Avoid drinking alcohol, which can contribute to liver problems.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience the following side effects:

  • Hives
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Yellowing of the skin/eyes
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches)
  • Severe blisters, skin peeling, or red skin rash
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Easy bruising/bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Headaches

Home Remedy for Athlete's Foot

In addition to taking athlete’s foot medicine, there are also a number of steps you can take to deal with the condition:

  • Bleach water soaks: soak your feet in water with bleach every night for 10 minutes. To prepare bleach water, add no more than 1 tablespoon of bleach to a half gallon of water. This will help kill the fungus.
  • Air out: allow your feet to air out most of the time by using open-toed shoes or sandals.
  • Avoid sweats: fungi grow in moist and warm environments. Always keep your feet dry. If you are an athlete or do heavy workouts, use antifungal powder on your feet before wearing socks to help keep them dry. It is also a good idea to have an extra pair of socks when you play sports or workout. Wash your feet with soap and water then dry them completely before changing your socks. It is advisable to change socks frequently or at least once a day even if you do not sweat.
  • Avoid walking barefoot: avoid walking barefoot, even in your own home. Use a pair of slippers in the locker room, gym, pool, hotel showers, or other public places.
  • Bleach your socks and shower: bleach your socks and shower floors or tubs once a week. This will help prevent future outbreaks or re-infection.

If you are pregnant, you can try using a diluted vinegar soak or spray made from 1 part white vinegar with 4 parts water. You can also use lotrimin cream twice daily for 2 to 3 weeks on your soles. Avoid taking antifungal pills because they have potential side effects and can cause fetal harm. Ask your OB/GYN before taking or using any athlete’s foot medicine during pregnancy.

 
 
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