You can usually treat athlete's foot (tinea pedis) yourself at home by using nonprescription medicines and taking care of your feet. But if you have diabetes and develop athlete's foot, or have persistent, severe, or recurrent infections, see your doctor.
Nonprescription antifungals include clotrimazole (Lotrimin), miconazole (Micatin), terbinafine (Lamisil), and tolnaftate (Tinactin). These medicines are creams, lotions, solutions, gels, sprays, ointments, swabs, or powders that are applied to the skin (topical medicine). Treatment will last from 1 to 6 weeks.
If you have a vesicular (blister) infection, soak your foot in Burow's solution several times a day for 3 or more days until the blister fluid is gone. After the fluid is gone, use an antifungal cream as directed. You can also apply compresses using Burow's solution.
To prevent athlete's foot from returning, use the full course of all medicine as directed, even after symptoms have gone away.
Avoid using hydrocortisone cream on a fungal infection, unless your doctor prescribes it.
Good foot care helps treat and prevent athlete's foot.
- Keep your feet clean and dry.
- Dry between your toes after swimming or bathing.
- Wear shoes or sandals that allow your feet to breathe.
- When indoors, wear socks without shoes.
- Wear socks to absorb sweat. Change your socks twice a day.
- Use talcum or antifungal powder on your feet.
- Allow your shoes to air for at least 24 hours before you wear them again.
- Wear shower sandals in public pools and showers.
If you have athlete's foot, dry your groin area before your feet after bathing. Also, put on your socks before your underwear. This can prevent fungi from spreading from your feet to your groin, which may cause jock itch. For more information about jock itch, see the topic Ringworm of the Skin.
You may choose not to treat athlete's foot if your symptoms don't bother you and you have no health problems that increase your risk of severe foot infection, such as diabetes. But an untreated athlete's foot infection causing skin blisters or cracks can lead to severe bacterial infection. Also, if you don't treat athlete's foot infection, you can spread it to other people.