Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that
develops on the feet, usually between the toes. Most cases of athlete’s
foot can be treated at home with over-the-counter antifungal medication.
However, fungal infections are stubborn and often recur over time. To
completely eliminate athlete’s foot, it is necessary to change the
environment that is allowing the fungus to grow, and eliminate the
infection with antifungal medication.
Reasons for treatment
Fungal infections are difficult to treat. They
can often persist for years and then abruptly disappear. When athlete’s
foot develops, the initial symptoms are itching, burning, redness, and
stinging. If left untreated, skin can blister and crack, leading to
serious and debilitating skin infections.
Though fungal infections can be treated at home,
it is important to see a physician if skin does not clear up within a
few weeks. Excessive redness, swelling, fever, and drainage can be a
sign that a bacterial infection is also occurring. People with diabetes
and medical conditions that compromise the immune system should seek
treatment immediately for athlete’s foot.
How athlete’s foot treatment is administered
The treatment of athlete’s foot depends on the
type of fungal infection and the severity of the infection. The best
results are obtained with early treatment before the fungus has taken
Treatment usually begins at home with
over-the-counter antifungal medications. Antifungal medications may come
in cream, spray, or powder form. These products should be applied to
the affected area twice daily for a minimum of four weeks. Improvement
is usually gradual.
It is also important to keep the infected area
clean and dry. Fungus thrives in dark, moist environments. The moisture
that develops in shoes and socks combined with the lack of sunlight to
the feet provides an ideal environment for fungal growth. The best
remedies are to: use medicated powders to keep feet dry, soak feet in a
drying solution, change socks periodically throughout the day, and wear
open toed shoes or shoes that breathe.
When topical medications fail to eliminate
athlete’s foot, doctors may recommend prescription antifungal
medications. Some prescription antifungal treatments are topical creams;
others can be taken in pill form. Athlete’s foot symptoms may disappear
shortly after the antifungal medication takes effect, but it is
important to continue with the full course of treatment. Recurrence of
fungal infection is common, and each time symptoms appear they should be