Nonprescription Antifungals for Athlete's Foot
These antifungal medicines are put directly on the skin (topical). They are available as creams, lotions, solutions, gels, sprays, ointments, swabs, or powders. One medicine may be available in many forms. Your doctor will help you decide which form is best for you.
How It Works
All of these medicines kill fungi. But you most likely will use terbinafine for a shorter amount of time than the others. See the medicine label for specific instructions. In general:
If you stop treatment early, even if the symptoms are gone, an athlete's foot infection will likely return. It is very important to use the medicine for the entire time directed.
Why It Is Used
Nonprescription antifungal medicines are usually the first medicines used in treating mild and moderate athlete's foot. If treatment is not successful, or if you have a severe case, prescription antifungals are used.
How Well It Works
Nonprescription antifungal medicines are effective in curing athlete's foot for most people. But studies show that allylamine medicines work slightly better than azole medicines.1
Terbinafine requires a shorter course of treatment (1 week) than miconazole and clotrimazole (4 to 6 weeks). While terbinafine costs more than the other two, you need less of it to successfully treat a fungal infection.
Topical antifungals rarely cause side effects. Stop using the medicine and talk to your doctor if the medicine causes severe blistering, itching, redness, dryness, or irritation.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
It is not known whether these medicines harm a fetus or pass into breast milk. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, talk with your doctor.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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