14th November 2023
How To Get Rid of Athlete’s Foot: OTC and Prescription TreatmentsDr. Jill Barat, PharmD
Athlete’s foot is a common, yet irritating, foot condition with up to 70% of people developing this foot fungus at some point in their lives.
For some, a simple over-the-counter cream might do the trick and you will never have red, peeling, itching toes again.
But, for others, the general over-the-counter athlete’s foot creams don’t clear up the fungus completely, or it keeps on returning.
For those resistant cases, or for those who just want everything cleared up sooner, a prescription athlete’s foot cream or oral tablet from a doctor may be the best route to fungus-free feet.
Over The Counter Athlete’s Foot Treatment Options
The over-the-counter, or OTC, treatment options contain either non-prescription or lower-than-prescription-strength antifungal medications that help eradicate the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.
These medications can be found at your local pharmacy or grocery store, may come in creams, gels, sprays, or powders, and normally need to be applied once or twice daily for between 1-4 weeks, depending on the product you choose.
The most popular over-the-counter athlete’s foot medications are:
- Clotrimazole (Cruex, Lotrimin AF)
- Miconazole (Cruex powder, Lotrimin AF powder, Desenex powder, Micatin spray)
- Tolnaftate (Lotrimin AF defense powder, Tinactin)
- Butenafine (Lotrimin ultra cream)
- Terbinafine (Lamisil AT cream or gel)
Signs That You Need Something Stronger
You have diabetes: If you have diabetes, anything going on with your feet can become complicated quickly, so seeing your doctor for treatment and skipping the at-home over-the-counter creams is the way to go.
You used an OTC cream for 4 weeks or more: If you have already tried your hand at one of the above over-the-counter athlete’s foot treatment options, but you still clearly have a lingering athlete’s foot problem, it’s time to talk to a professional.
Your athlete’s foot is back: If you feel like you keep on clearing your athlete’s foot only for it to return a few weeks later, then you may be dealing with a fungal infection that may respond better to something stronger and you should speak with a doctor.
It’s getting worse: If you are making your way through your athlete’s foot treatment with an over-the-counter medication, but the fungus seems to be worsening, spreading, or just doesn’t seem to be improving, it’s time to get an opinion from a doctor about the next steps.
Prescription Treatment Options For Athlete's Foot
Oral Anti-Fungal Medications:
For resistant cases of athlete’s foot, your doctor may opt to put you on an oral anti-fungal tablet or capsule which will disperse anti-fungal medication throughout your body.
Oral medications for athlete’s foot include: Griseofulvin, Itraconazole, or Terbinafine.
This is not usually the first line of treatment, due to these medications potentially having more side effects than topical and being metabolized by the liver.
Prescription Anti-Fungal Creams:
Your doctor may choose to start you on a prescription anti-fungal cream.
These prescription creams are normally higher strengths and stronger versions of the over-the-counter anti-fungal medications, and they should be able to work better than the over-the-counter medications.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.