Best treatment for athletes foot

Q: What is the best treatment for athlete’s foot? 
If you suffer from "Athlete's Foot," you have lots of company: nearly 1 out of every 5 Americans have a fungus infecting their skin or nails, called tinea or ringworm. The tinea fungus thrives in warm, moist, and dark places, so people tend to get infections from tinea in areas that are tightly covered and sweaty. 
The medical name for infection with tinea depends on which area of your body is affected. For example, if your foot is affected with tinea, it's called tinea pedis, or "athlete's foot." A tinea infection in the groin area is referred to as tinea cruis, or "jock itch."
Tinea organisms infect your feet by finding blisters or cracks in the skin between your toes. Taking good care of your feet and keeping the skin on your feet intact helps prevent you from becoming infected with tinea.
All fungus needs moisture to thrive. Keeping your feet as dry as possible will discourage its growth and lower its ability to infect you. If possible, wear sandals with open toes to encourage air circulation to your feet and reduce sweating. Sunlight shining on your skin also helps retard the growth of tinea fungus.  
Some other key strategies to help keep your feet as dry as possible include avoiding tight shoes and frequently changing your socks. Some people wear running socks designed to wick moisture away and reduce friction that can create blisters. Putting powder on your feet before you put on your socks can also help absorb moisture. 
Which remedy should you use for your athlete’s foot? There are several products to choose from that don't require a prescription. My personal recommendation is terbinafine 1% gel, also known as Lamisil ATÆ gel. 
Terbinafine is also available as a cream, but I recommend using gel because it is less moisturizing than the cream. Less moisture on your skin is a good thing when treating a fungal infection like tinea. 
When selecting an antifungal product from the pharmacy shelf, be careful to LOOK at the label to ensure you are getting the medication you want. 
My husband has been fighting "athlete's foot" for decades, applying a non-prescription antifungal lotion on his feet every night. Every time he thinks he's purchasing the same brand, he somehow ends up with different medicine. 
The original formulation of Lamisil Æ contains terbinafine. Today the company that owns the LamisilÆ brand sells products containing different antifungal agents under the same name. Lamisil AFÆ cream contains clotrimazole, Lamisil AFÆ powder aerosol contains miconazole, and Lamisil UltraÆ cream contains butenafine. 
It's the same with the DesenexÆ brand of antifungal medicines. Although the original DesenexÆ formulations contains undecylenate, DesenexÆ cream contains clotrimazole, and DesenexÆ foot powder contains miconazole. 
Here are 5 Tips on Treating Athlete’s Foot: 
1. Keep your feet as dry as possible. 
Fungus loves warm, moist, and dark places. Always dry carefully between your toes after bathing or swimming, avoid tight shoes, and change your socks frequently, twice daily, if possible. Wearing sandals instead of shoes whenever possible also helps keep your feet dry.
2. Sterilize your socks.
Use cotton socks and wash them in HOT water. Tinea can live in your socks. Laundering your socks with scalding water reduces the likelihood of tinea fungus reinfecting your feet. 
3.  Use an antifungal gel, lotion, cream consistently for at least 2 weeks.
Apply your antifungal treatment twice a day for a minimum of two weeks, or until your symptoms are completely gone.
4.  Use antifungal powders for maintenance, not for cure. 
Don't use antifungal powder to treat an active infection because it’s not powerful enough alone to eradicate the fungus. If your symptoms don’t completely resolve in 2 weeks, keep treating your feet twice a day. 
5. Treat an additional 2 weeks after your symptoms disappear. 
Once your symptoms go away, continue treatment twice a day for another two weeks. This is very important because it helps the fungus get completely shed out of your skin. If you leave tinea fungus on the surface of your feet, they can start multiplying, and you'll be right back where you started. 
6.  Keep your foot fungus from coming back with a maintenance regimen.
Once your "athlete's foot" symptoms resolve and you've treated it for an additional 2 weeks, switch to a maintenance program to keep it from coming back. Using an antifungal foot powder or spray powder 1-2 times a day helps to control moisture, which helps prevent future infections. 
Dr. Louise Achey, Doctor of Pharmacy, is a 40-year veteran of pharmacology and author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate: How Medicines Work and How YOU Can Take Them Safely. Check out her NEW website for daily tips on how to take your medicine safely.
2020 Louise Achey


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