How To Fight Athlete’s Foot Fungus and Win

Q:        My husband has battled athlete’s foot for years. Is there something he can do or use to get rid of it for good?
Your husband has a lot of company out there. Nearly 1 out of every 5 Americans have some type of fungus infection of their skin or nails, and the most common type is athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is caused by a type of fungus called tinea. The medical name for the infection is determined by the affected area, for example, tinea of the feet is called tinea pedis or “athlete’s foot” and tinea of the groin is called tinea cruis or “jock itch.

Fungus like the tinea organisms love warmth, moisture, and darkness. People who wear tight shoes and whose feet sweat a lot make it much easier for tinea to get established and reproduce. Not drying between your toes after bathing or showering encourages tinea to spread across toes, nails and even from one foot to the other.

In order to contract athlete’s foot the tinea fungus has to find a way to get into your skin and set up camp. Getting blisters on your feet or cracks in the skin between your toes is an open invitation. Taking good care of your feet and keeping the skin of your feet intact can help keep you from getting infected in the first place.

If you already have athlete’s foot, what can you do? The most important thing is to make it as difficult as possible for the fungus to multiply, discouraging it to spread and making it easier for anti-fungal remedies to kill it off.

The biggest opportunity to make a difference in your husband’s athlete’s foot symptoms is to decrease the amount of moisture next to his feet. People who sweat a lot or who are in contact with wet clothing for long periods of time are much more likely to get fungal infections like athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) or jock itch (tinea cruis).

How can he keep his feet dry? One way is to wear sandals with open toes if at all possible. Feet that are open to the air don’t tend to sweat as much and the sunshine on their feet also discourages the growth of tinea.

Wearing loose shoes and changing his socks frequently will also help keep his feet drier. Some people prefer wearing running socks designed to wick moisture away and reduce getting blisters. Putting powder on his feet before he puts on his socks also helps absorb moisture.

Which remedies are best to treat athlete’s foot? There are several effective options that don’t require a prescription. My personal recommendation is terbinafine 1% gel. It used to be prescription only but now is available over-the-counter (OTC) as Lamisil AT® gel. You can also buy it as the cream, but I prefer the gel because it is less moisturizing than the cream.

When you go to buy an anti-fungal product because the company that sells Lamisil® AT gel has several anti-fungal agents sold under the Lamisil® name, not just terbinafine. Lamisil AF® cream contains the anti-fungal clotrimazole, Lamisil AF® powder aerosol contains the anti-fungal miconazole, and Lamisil Ultra® cream has butenafine. Another anti-fungal, tolnaftate, is available both as a generic and as the brand name Tinactin®.

Here are 4 Tips to treating Athlete’s foot successfully:

1.    Before applying the anti-fungal product, dry your feet well, especially between your toes.

2.    Apply the gel or cream to the affected area twice a day for a minimum of two weeks, until your symptoms completely go away. Don’t use powder by itself because it’s not powerful enough to eradicate the fungus. If your symptoms don’t completely resolve then continue treating twice a day and keep your feet as dry as possible. Wearing sandals without socks can be very helpful.

3.    Once your symptoms disappear continue treating twice a day for another two weeks. This is very important because it helps make sure the fungus gets completely shed out of your skin. If you leave any tinea fungus inside the skin layers of your feet they can start multiplying and before you know it you’ll be right back where you started.

4.    Once your athlete’s foot symptoms have gone and you’ve treated it for 2 MORE weeks, THEN switch to your maintenance program. Using a powder or spray powder 1-2 times a day helps control moisture as well as discourage the fungus from coming back.

Leave a Reply