What is the Best Treatment for Athletes Foot? (Ultimate Guide)

Athlete’s foot is more than an inconvenience. It can be painful, unsightly, and disruptive to your daily life. But there’s good news! If you’ve had the misfortune of contracting athlete’s foot, the following guide will show you just how it easy it is to treat the condition, especially when you treat it immediately.

What is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot, also known by its medical name “tinea pedis,” is a fairly widespread disease that anyone can contract—not just athletes as the terminology implies. More specifically, athlete’s foot is a contagious fungal infection and a form of ringworm that usually affects the bottom of the feet and between the toes, but it can spread to other parts of the body as well, such as the fingernails.

The microorganisms that cause athlete’s foot thrive in areas of the human body that tend to be very warm, moist, and humid, making your feet the perfect breeding ground. If you spend time at the gym or pool, you are more susceptible to contracting athlete’s foot since it spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces like gym floors, clothing, and towels. Athlete’s foot can also infect people whose feet become sweaty while wearing tight-fitting shoes.

Although the condition is not usually serious, urgent treatment is highly recommended to prevent it from spreading to other, more visible parts of the body. If left untreated, athlete’s foot can lead to painful blisters, smelly feet, and an all-around embarrassing situation. The good news is that the treatment procedure is simple. You can clear up the condition simply by learning how to apply athlete’s foot cream to the affected areas.

Athlete’s Foot

Signs and Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot

Signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot can vary, but here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Inflammation of the affected area
  • Scaly red rash
  • Itchiness
  • Stinging or burning sensation in between the toes
  • Dry, flaky patches of skin on the soles and sides of the feet
  • Blisters and sores, especially on the soles of the feet
  • Toenails that pull away from the nail bed

Some of these symptoms most commonly occur when the condition is at an advanced stage, so addressing the condition immediately is strongly advised. By taking the following precautionary steps, you can increase your likelihood of avoiding the worst symptoms of athlete’s foot. Or even better, you can avoid the condition altogether!

Athlete’s Foot Prevention

Just like getting sick, there’s no way to prevent athlete’s foot completely. However, you can greatly increase your chances of preventing the infection by adopting good hygiene practices, such as the recommendations below. These recommendations also can help you treat athlete’s foot much more effectively if you do find yourself with the infection:

  • Wear cotton socks and shoes that breathe
  • Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight and cramp your toes
  • Change your socks when your feet get sweaty
  • Take your shoes off when you get home and leave your feet exposed to the air
  • Do not share razors, towels, shoes or socks with other people
  • Wear sandals in public showers, around public swimming pools, and in other public places
  • Do not scratch sores and then touch other parts of your body

Treatments for Athlete’s Foot

You can treat athlete’s foot simply by applying an effective, medically-approved antifungal cream to the affected areas. If your case is not advanced, a topical over-the-counter cream should do the trick. In advanced cases, you will probably need to consider a prescription medication from your doctor.

Non-prescription Medicines

Non-prescription, topical antifungal creams are generally used as the first line of treatment. In most cases, these unguents work wonders to fight the fungus and prevent it from spreading. They also offer relief from discomfort and they moisturize dry feet. Some even assist in filling cracks in your feet that are prone to infection.

You do not need a prescription from a dermatologist or general physician to buy these medicines. Antifungal creams are generally inexpensive and can be found at your local drugstore or grocery store. Common brands include Clotrimazole (Lotrimin), Tolnaftate (Tinactin) and Terbinafine (Lamisil).

However, not all topical antifungal treatments are appropriate for pregnant women or those with sensitive skin. Consult with your doctor before applying any chemical agent to your skin.

Prescription Medicines

If your athlete’s foot symptoms do not improve after a couple weeks and advance to a severe stage, you may need a prescription medication. Some of the topical prescription medications your doctor might prescribe include prescription-strength Clotrimazole or Miconazole or topical steroid medications that reduce painful inflammation.

How Do I Choose Athlete’s Foot Cream?

When choosing a cream to treat athlete’s foot, make sure the product contains both antifungal and antibiotic properties. A good quality ointment or lotion will contain clotrimazole, which is the most effective antifungal element. Clotrimazole makes a competent antifungal medication for dealing with other types of fungal infections too, including various types of ringworm (athlete’s foot and jock itch), vaginal yeast infections, and diaper rash.

In addition, an effective product will be infused with other active ingredients like oregano, coconut, lavender, and tea tree oils. These oils moisturize dry skin and some also have antifungal and antibiotic properties.

The texture of a good cream should be greaseless and non-oily in order to stop the fungus from spreading further. Also, you may prefer a fragrance-free product or a chemical-free product, especially if your skin is easily irritated.

So, what are the best foot creams for athlete’s foot? Below are a few favorites among consumers:

 

1. Family Care Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal Cream, 1% USP

Family Care Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal Cream is infused with the active ingredient clotrimazole (1%). Other ingredients include benzyl alcohol, propylene glycol, and monobasic sodium phosphate dehydrate. The cream base is greaseless and contains no synthetic fragrance. For best results, it is recommended that you apply the ointment at least twice per day for 2-4 weeks.

Pros

  • Infused with clotrimazole, Family Care cream effectively treats various types of fungal infection, including athlete’s foot, jock itch, toenail fungus, vaginal yeast infections, and diaper rash
  • Non-greasy, non-oily formula that prevents fungi from breeding further
  • Noticeable results within two weeks of topical application
  • No fragrances or odors
  • Moisturizes dry and cracked skin
  • Restores healthy nail growth
  • Reduces itchy, inflamed skin
  • Available as an over-the-counter medication without a doctor’s prescription

Cons

  • Can take more than two weeks for affected areas to heal completely
  • No homeopathic ingredients
  • Some ingredients are laced with chemicals
  • Not always easily available

 

2. Derma-nu Therapeutic Foot & Body Lotion

If you are looking for an organic treatment, Derma-nu’s Tea Tree Oil Therapeutic Lotion may be your answer. The cream will help treat athlete’s foot, jock itch, or any other type of fungal infection. This antifungal and anti-itch cream contains Aloe Vera, which works in combination with a long list of botanical and herbal oils including peppermint, ginger, oregano, eucalyptus, tea tree, cinnamon, lavender, coconut, and jojoba. These essential oils work together to heal, exfoliate, and hydrate skin, and they also help remove body odor.

Pros

  • Effective in treating minor cases of various fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, jock itch, toenail fungus, and diaper rash
  • Natural ingredients sourced from medicinal plants and herbs
  • Soothes itchy and inflamed skin
  • Effective against body odor

Cons

  • User complaints that the product is not effective in treating acute fungal conditions
  • Most effective only when used in combination with other medicated products

 

3. Lotrimin Athlete’s Foot Cream

Suffused with clotrimazole, Lotrimin Athlete’s Foot Cream is the most popular medicinal cream for treating athlete’s foot. It is an odorless, topical cream that is highly effective in alleviating scaling, burning, and itching symptoms. The formula is greaseless and does not leave behind stains. Dermatologists, skin specialists, and podiatrists also highly recommend Lotrimin for other fungal afflictions, like diaper rash and jock itch. For best results, it is recommended that you apply the cream every day for 4 weeks.

Pros

  • Infused with clotrimazole, Lotrimin effectively treats various types of fungal infection, including athlete’s foot, jock itch, toenail fungus, vaginal yeast infections, and diaper rash
  • Offers quick relief from scaling, burning, cracking, and itchiness
  • Non-greasy and does not leave stains
  • Odorless
  • Soothing effect immediately following application
  • Moisturizes parched skin and repairs inflamed skin
  • Quick results

Cons

  • In comparison to other products, Lotrimin is expensive relative to its volume (0.42 ounces), and users may have to buy several tubes to completely heal their condition.
  • Not all ingredients are organic

How Much Does Athlete’s Foot Cream Cost?

It is best to do some research and compare prices before making your purchase. Prices vary depending upon product size, where you buy the product, and the concentration of key active ingredients. For example, the cost of a tube of Lotrimin at CVS might run higher than at Walmart, while a ordering a pack of Lotrimin online from Amazon might be the best value. In general, one .42 ounce tube of Lotrimin 1% usually will cost somewhere between $9-13.

In comparison, 1 ounce tubes of products from Lamisil and Tinactin, which is more than twice the volume of Lotrimin’s .42 ounce tube, will usually cost in the $10-14 range. Meanwhile, an organic product like Derma-nu’s tea tree oil lotion will probably run you somewhere around $15 for a 5 ounce bottle, as you’ll see in the product link in the section directly above.

For prescription-strength formulas, expect to pay at least three times the price of over-the-counter products, although your insurance may cover some of the expense. Nevertheless, it pays to address athlete’s foot early!

How Do I Apply Athlete’s Foot Cream?

Safely and properly applying athlete’s foot cream to affected areas will heal the infection more quickly and keep the fungus from spreading to the rest of your body.

  • Protect your hands by wearing gloves or using an applicator (most products come with an applicator) when you apply the cream
  • Do not touch the infected skin with your hands, even when applying the cream
  • Spread a very thin layer of cream over the entire infected area. Fight the urge to leave huge gobs of cream on the infection. It’s a waste of cream and it will keep the area moist, helping the fungus to breed further.
  • Read the product’s directions to learn the recommended application process for that particular product
  • Allow the cream to dry before putting on socks or shoes. While you may be tempted to wear socks over the applied cream to keep it from dirtying your floors or carpet, it is best not to do this because it will keep your feet moist, helping the fungus to thrive.

Conclusion

If you or anyone in your family is suffering from athlete’s foot, ringworm infection or any other kind of fungal condition, opting for any of the antifungal creams mentioned above will help provide needed relief. Make sure to follow the proper application method and you’ll be back on your feet in no time!

Be aware that the infection can re-occur though, and you may need to consult your physician for advanced cases. Nevertheless, your physician can prescribe medications to make sure the disease disappears for good. Then take the precautionary measures described above to avoid contracting it again. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

 


Sources:

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/athlete-s-foot-how-to-prevent

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/treatment.html

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/condition-314-Athlete&

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-4316/clotrimazole-topical/details

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=fc532ed7-27e4-4f2c-b77e-ba6c298763cd&audience=consumer

https://www.lotrimin.com/athletes-foot/

Image Sources:

Depositphotos Athlete’s Foot

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