How do I Treat Athlete's Foot?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 January 2020
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Most people don’t need to be overly concerned if they get a case of athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection of the feet. It can be fairly easy to treat athlete's foot without seeing a doctor, but people should be aware of symptoms that suggest no improvement in the condition or a worsening problem. Sometimes it does require the help of a doctor to treat athlete’s foot, and those who have at risk feet, like diabetics, may especially want to see a doctor prior to pursuing treatment.

The standard method to treat athlete's foot is to head to the store to pick up an antifungal lotion. These may have many names, and generic ones called antifungal creams are usually just as good as brand name products. Begin treatment by first cleaning the feet, fully drying them, and then placing cream on any skin tissue that seems affected. Check between the webs of toes, and on the bottom of feet since these are two prime areas the fungus may live.

Usually, antifungal cream directions suggest use for a couple of weeks. Even if symptoms improve before this time, it’s not recommended that people halt treatment. Early discontinuation of treatment may cause the fungus to come back and become more resistant. Instead, plan on using the lotion two times a day for the recommended time period. If it is working, symptoms should start to disappear, but note if they’re getting worse.


There are a few things to do to help get treat athlete's foot in addition to using an antifungal cream. For instance, using sandals or breathable socks may help. Keeping the feet dry is important since fungus thrives in moist environments. People should always make sure to dry the feet thoroughly after exiting the shower or bath. For people who use communal changing rooms or showers, shower shoes or sandals are recommended too.

If athlete’s foot isn’t getting any better, it may be time to see a doctor. This would especially be the case if the skin is crusting on the heel, called moccasin athlete’s foot, there are cracks in the skin that cause it bleed, the toe nails are yellowing, or if blisters form on the foot. Doctors may merely suggest switching to a different antifungal lotion, or they might feel patients would benefit from oral antifungal treatment that must be prescribed. They can also thoroughly check the feet for signs of bacterial infection in cuts and prescribe oral antibiotics if necessary.

Oral antifungal medications often need to be taken for about a month, and this may be combined continued use of an antifungal lotion. People should still treat athlete's foot in other ways. Remember to keep the feet cool and dry, and avoid reinfection by walking barefoot in public changing rooms or showers.

Some people may prefer to treat athlete's foot by more natural means at first. A few substances have natural antifungal properties like tea tree oil and garlic oil. When people do not have diabetes, and have only a mild case, they might try this method, applying the oils at least twice a day as they would an antifungal cream. Anyone trying these methods should still watch for athlete’s foot worsening and inform their doctors if it gets worse or if treatment is not helping.



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