Fungal Infection Treatments
Topical antifungal creams and lotions are often used, say Stein Gold and Weinberg. Some are over the counter, such as:
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex)
- Miconazole (Desenex, Micatin)
- Terbinafine (Lamisil)
Often the same topical medicine will work for ringworm and yeast, Stein Gold tells WebMD. There's usually no harm in trying over-the-counter remedies first for uncomplicated skin infections, she says. "If you use one of these OTC products for a few weeks and it's not better, I'd certainly have it looked at," Stein Gold says.
If the infection is extensive or persistent, you may need prescription medicines to treat it. Among these are prescription topicals such as ciclopirox (Loprox, Penlac), ketoconazole (Nizoral), and oxiconazole (Oxistat).
Oral antifungal medicines that may be prescribed include:
- Terbinafine (Lamisil)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
- Itraconazole (Sporanox)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- Griseofulvin (Fulvicin P/G, Fulvicin U/F, Grifulvin V, Gris-Peg)
How long you take these medicines depends in part on how bad the infection is. Often, it is just a matter of weeks, Stein Gold says.
Nail infections may take longer to clear up than infections elsewhere, she says. For toenails, she says, three months of treatment is common. For fingernails, six weeks may be needed.
Prompt treatment is always a good idea, Stein Gold says. "Try to treat it early so it doesn't spread," she says. "Pay attention if you have burning, itching."
If you have an underlying chronic medical condition, especially one that involves a suppressed immune system, it's crucial to treat earlier than later.
Preventing Fungal Infections
You can follow some simple steps to reduce the risk of these fungal infections -- or avoid a repeat, doctors say. Here are some prevention tips from the National Athletic Trainers' Association:
- Keep the skin dry. "That really helps," says Stein Gold. Fungi love warm, moist areas.
- Take your own instruments (available at beauty supply stores) to the nail salon. Be sure to sterilize the instruments between manicures and pedicures.
- Protect your nails. Doctors warn against cutting the cuticle or pushing it back too much. "It's there to protect the nail from outside invasion," Stein Gold says.
- Baby your feet. Wear white cotton socks. Some socks are made of ''wicking'' material to reduce moisture.
- Start fresh. If you've had a bad athlete’s foot infection, toss your flip flops or shower shoes and replace them with a new, clean pair.
- Use foot powders if the fungi love your feet. "Keep your feet dry and cool," Weinberg says.
Wash your workout clothes. Repeat wearing invites fungus. The same goes for socks, swimsuits, and sweaty T-shirts. Wear once, wash, repeat.