Effective treatments for individuals with mild cases of athlete's foot include applying over-the-counter antifungal powder, ointment, spray or lotion, according to Mayo Clinic. If nonprescription antifungals are ineffective, patients can ask their doctor for prescription-strength treatment. Severe infections are usually treated by taking oral antifungal pills.
The most effective treatment for athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, varies with its severity and type, explains WebMD. Over-the-counter medication is applied directly to the skin and usually contains tolnaftate, clotrimazole, terbinafine and miconazole. Prescription antifungals are available in topical form, such as naftifine and butenafine, and as oral antifungals, including itraconazole and fluconazole. Doctors require patients to continue using antifungal medicine even if symptoms improve or disappear after beginning treatment. Because re-infection is a common occurrence in patients with athlete's foot, completing treatment is necessary to prevent it from returning.
Patients with athlete's foot can also try several home remedies, such as diluted Clorox soaks, specific shampoos and vinegar soaks, according to MedicineNet. Diluted vinegar sprays or soaks are mixtures that involve one part white vinegar to four parts water, while diluted Clorox soaks require adding 1/4 cup of Clorox bleach to a bathtub full of water. Pregnant women with athlete's foot can apply Lotrimin cream twice daily for up to three weeks or try diluted vinegar soaks. Taking antifungal pills are not recommended for pregnant women due to possible side effects.