If precautionary steps don't work, there are several ways you can treat a mild case of athlete's foot at home with over-the-counter antifungal medicines. These include topical products containing the active ingredients clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine or tolnaftate [sources: BlueCross BlueShield, Mayo Clinic]. They might be available as sprays, ointments, powders or creams. These products are usually found at local drugstores, and if you use them as directed, chances are that your athlete's foot will be a thing of the past. In general, you will need to apply the product once or a few times a day for a couple of weeks while being careful to keep your feet clean and dry.
If your athlete's foot persists after treatment, you might need to see your doctor. He or she might prescribe a topical medicine that's similar to an over-the-counter medicine, but stronger. These include the ingredients naftifine, butenafine, miconazole and clotrimazole [source: WebMD]. If you try these and still have some signs of athlete's foot, your doctor may give you an oral medication such as itraconazole, fluconazole or terbinafine [source: Mayo Clinic]. As these drugs can have some negative side effects, they are usually reserved for those with severe cases that do not respond to other treatments.
No matter what treatment you use, taking preventive measures can help you avoid spreading the fungus to others in your home, at your gym, on your sports team or anywhere else until the condition has healed.
For more information on athlete's foot and how to treat it, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Podiatric Medical Association. "Athlete's Foot." (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://www.apma.org/topics/athfoot.htm
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. "Athlete's Foot." (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://www.bcbsnc.com/content/services/formulary/over-counter-medications/adult-conditions/athletes-foot.htm
- CIGNA. "Athlete's Foot." (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://www.cigna.com/healthinfo/hw28392.html
- FamilyDoctor.org. "Tinea Infections: Athlete's Foot, Jock Itch and Ringworm." March 2009. (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/infections/common/fungal/316.printerview.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Athlete's Foot." Nov. 22, 2008. (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/athletes-foot/DS00317
- TeensHealth. "Athlete's Foot." July 2007. (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://kidshealth.org/teen/infections/skin_rashes/athletes_foot.html#
- University of Michigan Health System. "Athlete's Foot." Aug. 11, 2008. (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/sma/sma_athletes_crs.htm
- WebMD. "Athlete's Foot." July 2, 2008. (Accessed 08/19/2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/athletes-foot-topic-overview