Athlete's Foot

Published: September 22, 2023
Gabrielle DeGagne
By Gabrielle DeGagne, 2024 PharmD Candidate
Gabrielle Pierce
By Gabrielle Pierce, PharmD, MBA

Fungus commonly grows in warm, moist environments and inside your shoe can be just that! Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a common fungal infection of the skin on your foot. 

How do you know if you have athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot commonly occurs between your toes but can be anywhere on your foot. Common signs or symptoms of athlete’s foot may include:

  • Red, scaly, or flaky skin
  • Itching, burning, or stinging 

How can you treat athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is treated with an antifungal medication. There are many over the counter (OTC) antifungal medications for the treatment of athlete’s foot that can be purchased at your local pharmacy. 

Over the counter antifungals for the treatment of athlete’s foot include medications such as miconazoleclotrimazoletolnaftate, butenafine, and terbinafine. These products come in a variety of dosage forms such as creams, ointments, and powder sprays. Your pharmacist can help you select a product that will work best for you. 

Below are some helpful tips on how to appropriately use topical antifungals:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after applying the medication
  • Clean and dry the affected area 
  • If using a towel to dry the affected area, wash it in hot water to prevent spreading the infection
  • Massage the medication into the skin if using a cream or ointment

What can you do to prevent athlete’s foot?

  • Wash your feet with soap and water
  • Keep your skin clean and dry 
  • Wear well-fitted, breathable shoes 
  • Wear sandals in public areas such as pools or locker rooms
  • Avoid sharing towels or socks with others

When Should I See My Doctor?
Although symptoms should improve with regular use of the medication after 1 week, you should continue to use the medication for 2 to 6 weeks as directed. If symptoms have not improved in 1 week or completely resolved at the end of treatment, then you should see your doctor. Also, if you have diabetes, you should see your doctor to get treatment recommendations.

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that commonly begins between the toes but can be easily treated with OTC medications. If you are having symptoms of athlete’s foot, talk to your doctor or a pharmacist about available treatment options and what you can do to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. 

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