While any skin condition can make you feel a little less than… erm, fresh, athlete’s foot is one that can really put a damper on your self-confidence. Luckily, though tinea pedis, the scientific term for the condition, is far from fun, it’s also something that can easily be treated at home with a little know-how. Woman’s World turned to New York-based podiatrists Dr. Amnon Barnea, DPM, of Walk NYC Podiatry and Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, of City Podiatry, for more on how to treat athlete’s foot and their favorite products for keeping feet looking and feeling their best.
What is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection found on the skin of the feet that can cause odor, itching, peeling, and scaling. According to Dr. Barnea, there are two types of athlete’s foot: inter-digital (which affects the areas between the toes) and moccasin (which affects the soles and sides of the foot).
A mildly contagious condition, “[athlete’s foot] can spread to other people, body parts and most commonly to the toenails,” Dr. Sutera shares.
One thing that Dr. Barnea is quick to note, however, is that athlete’s foot is not a hygiene issue. “Having this type of infection is not an indication of the person’s overall health or their personal hygiene. Most humans may be susceptible to it when their feet come in contact with the fungal pathogens, which thrive in hot and humid areas, like swimming pools, locker rooms, and shoes.”
One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with athlete’s foot is its reoccurrence. According to Dr. Barnea, repeat instances will likely come down to the type of treatment you choose to use.
There are two main types of antifungal medications: fungicidal, which kill off fungal pathogens, and fungistatic, which can only inhibit fungal growth. Therefore, it is recommended to use fungicidal medications to increase your chances of nixing the problem for good. “Failure to do so will likely lead to a recurrence of the symptoms,” Barnea says.
How to Prevent Athlete’s Foot
Thankfully, according to both Dr. Barnea and Dr. Sutera, athlete’s foot is relatively easy to prevent. “Since athlete’s foot is contracted by contact, the best way to significantly reduce the risk of this infection is to minimize direct contact with surfaces that are more likely to sustain the fungal elements,” says Barnea.
That means wearing protective shoe gear, like slippers, flip flops, or sandals, anywhere where fungus is likely to be present: think the gym or community showers.
Both doctors also recommend changing your socks every day, implementing the use of foot powder ($20.91, Amazon), and alternating your shoes throughout the week to prevent any kind of fungal buildup.
For women who frequent nail salons, Dr. Sutera recommends bringing your own kit along with you. “Bring your own tools and only go to a nail salon that uses plastic liners in the tub and disposable nail and foot files,” she says. “Files can not be sterilized and are porous.”
Another pro-tip? “Make sure your feet are completely dry after bathing before putting on socks and shoes,” says Sutera. “Dry … in between toes and use medicated foot powder if you sweat.”
While over-the-counter remedies can ease symptoms, it’s important to visit your podiatrist if you’re dealing with symptoms of athlete’s foot. “Seek medical attention at your podiatrist’s office if you have athlete’s foot for proper diagnosis and treatment,” Dr. Sutera advises. “There are some great over-the-counter products, but sometimes they are not strong enough and prescription treatments may be necessary.”
Best Athlete’s Foot Treatments
Have funky smelling, itching feet? We’ve got you covered. Dr. Barnea and Dr. Sutera sounded off on their favorite over-the-counter treatments to help you get your feet in tip-top shape today. Keep scrolling to shop the picks Woman’s World has rounded up of the best athlete’s foot treatments.
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Athletes Foot Cream
Best Athletes Foot Cream — Lamisil
Where to buy: $13.99, Amazon
One of the most popular over-the-counter products on the market for athlete's foot, Lamisil is a topical cream that got a thumbs up from both of our doctors. Says Dr. Barnea "I recommend Lamisil cream, as its fungicidal active ingredient (Terbinafine) has a long and proven track record of effectiveness. I usually advise patients to wash their feet with antibacterial soap and then dry their feet well before applying the cream. It should be applied just once daily (morning or night) for one to two weeks."
Athletes Foot Powder
Best Athletes Foot Powder — Zeasorb AF
Where to buy: $20.91 for a pack of two, Amazon
When it comes to foot powder, Dr. Barnea is a fan of the fungus-fighting power of Zeasorb AF. "IN addition to its antifungal activity, it is an excellent, super absorber of moisture and helps create a dryer environment in shoes, reducing sogginess of the socks."
Athletes Foot Treatment
Best Shoe Disinfectant Spray — SteriShoe
Where to buy: $149.95, Amazon
For the ultimate shoe disinfectant, try SteriShoe. While pricer than your typical over-the-counter treatments, Dr. Barnea calls this device the "best method" when it comes to athlete's foot treatment for your shoes. "[SteriShoe] is an in-shoe device that uses UV light and is clinically proven to kill 99.9 percent of the germs that cause foot infections and athlete's foot," he shares.
Powder Foot Spray
Best Powder Spray for Athletes Foot — Lotrimin
Where to buy: $20.64 for a pack of three (Originally $24.18), Amazon
Looking for a powder foot spray? Lotrimin gets both doctor's seal of approval. This powder-based spray contains the potent antifungal miconazole nitrate, a fungistatic treatment that helps to inhibit the growth of fungus that causes athlete's foot. It's an easy addition to your daily foot care routine that will keep your feet dry throughout the day.
Liquid Foot Spray
Best Athletes Foot Spray — Tinactin
Where to buy: $5.49, Target
For a liquid foot spray, Dr. Sutera says that mainstay Tinactin is the way to go. Fast, effective, and affordable, this treatment contains one percent tolnaftate, a proven treatment for the natural fungus that causes most athlete's foot. If instant, cooling relief is what you're after, this is your pick.
Tea Tree Oil
Best Natural Athlete's Foot Cure — Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil
Where to buy: $9.95, Amazon
For those looking to go the holistic route, Dr. Sutera recommends tea tree oil, like this 100 percent pure bottle from Maple Hollisitics. Known for its natural antifungal and antiseptic properties, tea tree oil has long been used in the fight against fungus. Whether you apply it directly to the skin or infuse it in a foot soak, your feet are sure to thank you.
Best Foot Soak
Best Foot Soak for Athlete's Foot — Purely Northwest
Where to buy: $14.99, Amazon
Epsom salt foot soaks are nothing new when it comes to foot care, but when infused with tea tree oil, they become a killer fungus fighter. In fact, Dr. Sutera is a fan of foot soaks. For a great option, pick up Purely Northwest's tea tree Epsom salt soak. Powerful-yet-soothing thanks to its blend of tea tree, peppermint, cajuput, camphor, rosemary, eucalyptus, and lavender oils, this rich foot soak is a dip that will feel more like a spa treatment than a medical one.
Best Socks For Athletes Foot
Best Socks for Athlete's Foot — Saucony Vented Socks
Where to buy: $13.99, Amazon
Dr. Barnea and Dr. Sutera have made it clear — keeping your feet dry is a must when it comes to preventing athlete's foot. In order to do this, you'll need the right accessories. We like Saucony's vented socks, since they're made from a breathable wicking fabric that will keep your feet free of moisture, even when you're working out. In turn, they'll help to prevent the proliferation of athlete's foot, keeping your feet nice and healthy. Since they're available in an array of colors, it will also be a cinch to incorporate them into your wardrobe.